Shopping: I want to ... Wake up in style - Prepare to be very alarmed

In the future, technological convergence will reduce our buying options to a few supermodel gadgets capable of doing just about everything we could possibly require of them.

Massive LCD screens embedded in our walls, for instance, will allow us to view digital broadcasts, home movies, digital snaps, and the day's newspapers, and let us organise our bank finance and order takeaways and shopping by proxy.

Microwave cookers will provide access to the Internet, and Walkmans will no longer require CDs, Mini-discs or tapes - the music will simply be embedded inside them in a superchip.

We are not talking decades here. In a couple of years these machines will be commonplace: the start of the next century is going to see a lot of old technology being sold off at car boot sales. This is fine, if you are a smug Intel processor waiting to be shoe-horned into a state of the art black box, but pretty depressing if you are only a humble alarm clock.

Nowadays of course, everything comes with a clock and you can programme your watch, your pager, your electronic organiser, your mobile phone and even your PC to wake you up if you really want, although I imagine few bother to utilise the function (the problem with convergence, of course, is that you can't see the function you really want, for the mass of other options available, most of which are only marginally useful).

So what future is there for something that used to feel pretty smug about being able to beep once every 24 hours, or wake you up with the dulcet tones of Zoe Ball if you were really unlucky? It wasn't too long ago that the chunky radio alarm clock (with requisite snooze button) seemed pretty smart.

Having been dispatched to college at the age of 18, with an intricate Swiss wind-up that ticked so loudly it had to be kept wrapped up in jumpers in the bottom drawer before emitting a noise louder than a car alarm at 7:30am, I dimly recall wanting one myself. Now, though, they look anachronistic as they gather dust on the shelves of electrical shops across the land, like prehistoric animals awaiting for their lineage's inevitable conclusion. Even their attempts to evolve look laughably futile.

Although you can see the merit in Oregon Scientific's Alarm Clock (pounds 39.99), which automatically adjusts its time across European time zones thanks to a radio-controlled time signal in the ether, the company's more elaborate big brother, the Electronic Barometer (pounds 99.99 for the six-function model), would perplex even Darwin. The seven-inch tall charcoal sentinel tells you how high your central heating is, how humid the air is, and predicts the weather, without you having to open the curtains.

Zeon Tech has designed a couple of equally absurd products. The Zeon Tech World Time Desk Clock (pounds 29.99) provides, among other features, details of maximum and minimum temperatures and rainfall for 24 major cities across the globe (just the thing you're likely to consult when contemplating which Factor suntan to buy for your package holiday in Ibiza). And its Dream Traveller (pounds 19.99) not only allows you to wake up to the synthetic sounds of the dawn chorus, it provides the sound of exotic streams, ocean surf and seagull cries to soothe you into your slumber.

Admittedly, the company also does a nifty gadget that allows you to record messages without having to get out of bed: brilliant if you dream up a cure for cancer in the middle of the night, and also pretty good for leaving messages to your loved ones, which can be programmed to wake them up in the morning (our recommendation: "But darling, it's your turn to get up and make the coffee"). The only problem is that it looks like the kind of machine traffic wardens carry around with which to dispense digital parking tickets.

When it comes down to it, the one major consideration with alarm clocks is whether or not you want them to be portable. If you want something simple, Braun's range comprises durable classics with real hands (from pounds 14.75 for a basic model, to pounds 23.75 for a voice control, and pounds 24.75 for reflex control), although every time I grope for mine and knock it on the floor, the battery holder has the immensely irritating habit of popping out.

For travellers who want to show off, Sony's ICF-CD1000 (pounds 149) will do the job. The size of a paperback and wishing it was a laptop, this neat little battery-powered package comprises a CD player, a FM/MW radio with five preset stations, and enough Mega Bass to wake up the neighbours in the adjoining bedroom. If you want something similarly priced for the home, then don't buy Sony's ICF-CD820 clock radio/CD player. The colour is a hideous, plasticky, dull silver, and it bears too close a resemblance to those ungainly old-fashioned clock radios, soon to hit the technological scrapheap.

If you really want to wake up in style, avoid the clock section of the electronic store altogether and head over to the mini- systems, the majority of which now encompass timer functions to turn on tapes, CDs or the radio at your behest.

As far as mid-range systems go, your best buy is Denon's DM-7 Super Micro Separates System (pounds 580), a 30 watt system with a three-disc CD changer, cassette player, and receiver with 40-station AM/FM preset (a Mini-disc unit is an optional extra). A remote control means that you don't even have to keep the console on your bedside table where things inevitably get tea spilled over them or are dragged onto the floor during dreams about taking on Mike Tyson, although the separates have a nice solid feel about them. The major aesthetic criticism is the tasteless milk chocolate veneer of the speakers.

If money is no object, then nothing competes with Bang & Olufsen's BeoSound 9000 (pounds 2,500), a slim, sleek sentinel with preset FM and AM radio, plus six CD stations neatly lined up next to one another, allowing you not just to wake up to the sound of a CD but a whole programmed sequence of them. The unit can be wall-mounted, horizontally or vertically, or mounted on an optional stand or bracket, and operated either manually or by remote control (pounds 150). Don't be persuaded to go for the top of the range BeoLab Penta 3 speakers (pounds 2,650/pair), though. They are just too cumbersome for the bedroom. The perfect speakers for nightime seduction and bad hair dawns are the slimline, tapered 8000s (pounds 2,100 a pair).

Yes, staying in bed has never been easier, especially if you've got a secondhand Teasmade under your bed. Now if only there were some way of getting the croissants (which, of course you programmed the cooker last night to bake this morning) from the kitchen without getting out from under the duvet.

Novelty Alarm

Clocks

n Homer Simpson: the 22cm tall, donut-gazing Simpson says five classic phrases. Available from Express Gifts/Index/Debenhams. Price: around pounds 25.

n Mr Golf. He swings his club, he shouts, and he costs $84.50 (pounds 50, plus p&p) from http://www.noveltyclocks.com

n Rude Awakening: "I said drag your ass out of bed now." Be brought to your senses by verbal abuse. It costs just $19.99 (pounds 12 plus p&p) from http:// www.rudeawakening.

com/index.html

n The drum-kit alarm clock: crash and roll for the Keith Moon fan in your life. For prices, call 001 847 735 9130.

Tv in Bed

TVS WITH remote controls are ubiquitous, and most of them allow you to programme them. Bang & Olufsen's revolving 32-inch widescreen BeoVision Avant (pounds 4,950), can be programmed to kick-start your day with a video or TV channel.

Now you can wake up to Apocalypse Now, or be roused for a big breakfast by Denise Van Outen.

Or, if you're really perverse, Richard and Judy.

Emergency

Back-up

DON'T WASTE pounds 1.80 getting the operator to wake you - programme your own reminder call for 20p with a touch-tone phone:

1. Dial *55*, followed by the time you want to be woken up in 24-hour clock speak (ie quarter past ten is 1015), proceeded by #.

2. To cancel the call dial #55#.

3. To check the call dial *#55#.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

    £16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence