Sangean RCR-1 Alarm Clock

Some of you may remember my recent rant about alarm clocks. I finally decided to get a Sangean RCR-1 and the cheapest office-type UPS I could find for battery backup. It’s $80 via J&R or Amazon. The clock is somewhat unique in that it has both a digital and a true analog display, and it keeps the analog display synchronized with the digital one. Here’s my review.

First, the positives about this clock.

It has a very nice look. The “humane waking system” is also nice. When the alarm begins to ring, it starts quiet and changes the display color from blue to orange. It gradually gets louder. Very nice. If you press sleep, the display will stay orange; it will do that until you cancel the alarm. Also very nice.

The unit has two alarms. Each alarm may be set to beep or to tune to a specific radio station. There is an alarm volume control underneath the unit. Each alarm may be programmed to ring on certain days of the week only. That is very handy. I haven’t had to adjust an alarm setting since we got the unit.

There is also a nap timer, that is sort of a third alarm. The nap timer takes a number of minutes, from 10 to 120, from now. It will ring the alarm that many minutes from the time you set it. Handy for… naps.

The unit does have a shortwave radio receiver to automatically synchronize with the NIST atomic clock. The initial synchronization can take some time (30-60 minutes for me), but it has been completely reliable. It’s really fun to watch it synchronize the analog clock; the hands will go spinning and get to the right time in just a few seconds.

The radio is all digital and the sound quality is the best I’ve ever heard from an alarm clock.

The unit appears to have an internal battery backup that preserves time and settings for at least 30 minutes (that I tested). It will not ring the alarm when on battery, however.

The bad:

First, of course, not ringing the alarm when on battery. That’s why I got the UPS.

Second, the manual. It is intelligible, but it is obviously an English translation, and leaves out some details. For instance, there is a toggle switch that will adjust the display between full brightness and whatever brightness level is set with the knob on the underside of the unit.

Also, I’ve found my old alarm with its old-fashioned red LED numbers to be easier to read than any of the backlit LCD clocks out there, including this one. The analog clock is more readable than the digital one in low-light conditions, but my old clock was still more readable. On the other hand, the old clock was ugly, huge, and gave far less information on its display.

On the whole, I’m happy with this alarm+UPS solution.

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