With the influx of smart displays, companies have woken up to the fact that our nightstands are prime real estate for alarm clocks with voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant built in. We're seeing more and more smart speakers shrinking in size and positioning themselves to take over our bedside tables.
And frankly we're all for it, because it's one less reason to rely on our smartphones, which dominate our lives in so many other aspects. Plus, there are lots of benefits in having a smart assistant capable of hearing our voice commands by our bedside.
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Whether it be setting an alarm using just your voice, requesting a radio station or some of your favorite music play when it's time to get up, or getting a weather forecast when the day begins, there are some great devices out there of all shapes and sizes.
We decided it was time to round up the best of these smart alarm clocks. Below you'll find our picks of the options out there right now.
The latest member of Amazon's Echo family is a tiny little thing, making it perfect for placing on a bedside table. If you're used to the 10-inch Echo Show, like us you'll probably be taken aback by just how much smaller this is. Yet it packs a lot in a tiny package: a 4W speaker that's surprisingly good, a built-in camera and even a 3.5mm jack.
Before you worry about that built-in camera, there's a physical shutter that slides across the lens and kills the power, ensuring total video privacy. That's important if you're going to use this as a bedside clock, and its inclusion suggests Amazon expects people to.
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The display is vibrant but will adjust to its surroundings, dimming when the lights go off. Again, an essential requirement for a bedside companion. And of course you've got built-in mics for summoning Alexa, whether it's to set a morning alarm, turn off the house lights, or read you a bedtime audiobook. Where we've found Alexa a little deaf when using the Echo Show 5 in other parts of the house, it's close enough by the bed to hear your half-awake mumbles to play the news or announce the weather forecast.
What's odd about the Show 5 is it sort-of displaces the Spot. We've kept the Spot on this list because that one really is 100% meant to be used as a clock, but between the two, we'd choose the Show 5.
The Echo Show 5 could be our favorite Echo speaker to date. Its diminutive size is much nicer to have in your home than the full-size Show, and the new control panels means there are more ways to use Alexa. It's a great balance of discreet integration, top control and better privacy that makes it highly recommendable for smart homes.
More of a Google user? Echo Show 5 still too big for you? Meet the smallest member of the wake-up gang, the Lenovo Smart Clock. Designed purely as a bedside clock, the Lenovo is a 4-inch display ensconced in a fabric-coated speaker.
There's no camera here, and the sound quality is less powerful than the Echo Show 5. It's just a 1.5-inch speaker with 3W output. It does the job, but you're not going to be playing any music through this unless you hate your ears.
The ambient light sensor is really good at dimming the screen in the dark and preventing the Lenovo from being a distraction while you sleep. It runs on the same Android Things platform as other third-party Assistant speakers, but it's more stripped down here. While some of this is for the better, we miss Home View, the smart home master control panel you'll find on other Google smart displays. This leaves voice commands as the primary interaction method.
There are no photos either, but the screen is so small we're not sure many people will mind. There are a few different clock faces to choose from, and we also love the built-in USB charge point, which means this can juice up your phone overnight β so you can get rid of the bedside smartphone charger.
Lenovo's clock achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and that's both an achievement and a limitation. At the end of the day, this is still just an alarm clock that's designed to sit on your bedside table. And though there are a couple of neat design quirks β like tapping to stop the alarm and a USB charger for your phone β that will endear it to some, those with other Assistant-compatible devices may be left wanting more smart display features.
The Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub) is a great smart alarm clock. One reason is the size: it stands just 4.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide, and looks like someone stuck a tablet on top of a speaker. But it does look good, better than the Echo Show in our opinion, and comes equipped with features to make it perfect for bedside use.
First of all is that adaptive display, which is still superior to Amazon's. Google's ambient screen tech means the Nest Hub will adjust its brightness to match the room. Turn the lights off and it will dim down to a level where you can just make out the time, but won't prove distracting. This also makes it great if you're using it to display photos, often making them look like, well, real photos.
Second, there's no camera at all. In its place is the ambient EQ sensor that makes that screen magic happen, and should give you peace of mind when putting this in the bedroom.
Of course you've got all the powers of Google Assistant to draw on here, along with Home View, Google's quick-draw control panel for all your connected smart devices. All told, it's a little smarter than Lenovo's clock, although some of the features may be superfluous to your needs from a smart alarm clock.
It's not hard to love the Google Nest Hub. Small but powerful, it's the best looking of the Assistant Smart Displays so far, and a great choice for the nightstand. It's also a great showcase for what this category of smart speaker can do, particularly with that ambient EQ sensor β and for a fantastic price. There's no camera, but that might be a good thing.
The OG smart alarm, Amazon's Echo Spot is modeled on the circular design of a classic bedside alarm. But unlike Lenovo's clock, which strips back a bunch of features to make it more bedroom-appropriate, Amazon's answer is unabashedly an Echo speaker β camera and all.
Bezel dominates much of the face of this clock, leaving just a 2.5-inch display for showing the time, news headlines, video calls β everything you can do on the larger Echo Show. This is either a good or bad thing depending on what you want in a clock and how much you care about privacy. For example, there's no physical shutter on the camera here. But that might not be a concern for you. And if you do want to use that camera, we can report that video quality in calling is pretty good.
There's a 3.5mm jack on the back to plug it into some better speakers, which you may want to do as the sound quality of the Spot is not much to write home about. But it's good enough for Alexa to read the news headlines or for listening to the radio.
If you ask us, it's the design of the Spot that still gives it pull. There are some nice round clock faces to pick from too, making the Spot nicer to look at than many other options, and making it feel more a part of the furniture.
The Amazon Echo Spot is a lovely little Alexa smart speaker, and might be the best looking of our list. However, despite taking on a more classic clock design, this is a fully-fledged Alexa speaker, camera and all. But those extra features do come at a cost.
The options above are all well and good, but you might not actually want a display in your bedroom - but still have a need for digital assistant skills and features.
Step forward the Echo Dot with Clock; which has an LED clock display behind the mesh grille of the speaker. It's nicely blurred by that barrier - it's still entirely clear to the eye - but has a fuzzy quality that makes it feel embedded in the fabric.
It's permanently on by default, showing the time to the minute, but can display other things depending on what you ask it. For example, you can ask Alexa about the weather it will show the temperature; or if you set a timer, it will display the timer counting down. Itβll also show you the current brightness or audio level of the Dot with Clock if you ask for a change to either.
As a dedicated bedside clock it works brilliantly. It has a light sensor built in, which can dim the display to suit the light in the room. At night it goes down to really low levels, easily enough for more sensitive sleepers to have no issue.
You can also tap anywhere on the top of the Dot with Clock, not just a specific button, to snooze an alarm, so long as the speaker's not muted - that's a nice feature, making it easier to silence your alarms.
Getting to grips with your new smart alarm clock
Hopefully, after reading all that you've decided on the best smart alarm clock to fit your needs. But it's not as simple as just plugging it in and hitting the hay. Check out our guides below to make sure you're getting the most out of your new digital assistant powered alarm clock: