Secret Agent Alarm Clock Review: On Her Majesty’s Sleep-Rest Service

Secret-Agent-Alarm-Clock

Sure you could wake to the sun’s rays, a cock crowing or the chime of alarm bells, but where’s the fun in that. If you’ve ever been startled awake at 5 in the morning and had the sudden desire to pop a cap in someone’s ass, then the Thumbs Up Secret Agent Alarm Clock is perfect.

Styled like a classic 007 Walther PPK (I think), the Secret Agent Alarm Clock, slips under your pillow and vibrates when the appointed time is near. Your finely tuned reflexes can reach for your piece and shoot the wall or ceiling to see the time projected as an LED clock face.

Aside from the trigger, which fires up the LED there are only two simple buttons on the battery-powered device, one to set the time and one to set the alarm. If you’ve ever used a classic alarm clock (and if you’re under a certain age there’s a fair chance you might not have) then it’s easy to use and if there’s one thing you won’t be reaching for it’s the instructions.

This is obviously a fun bordering on the novel gadget, making a great device for anyone who wants to live a live of espionage, intrigue and punctuality. As an alarm clock it is only so-so – the vibrations are a little bit mild – although the silence is useful as you can get up early without waking your partner. It definitely woke me up day to day but if I had a super important reason to be up – like a flight or job interview it’s more likely to be my back up alarm clock.

If you’re wondering what does get me up in the morning then you’re in luck as I’m going to tell you. In the winter months the alarm clock function on the Philips Hue is pretty much unbeatable. When it’s bright in the mornings I prefer the Sleep Cycle app, which measures your sleep cycles and wakes you at the lightest point – without the jarring slap in the face of the traditional alarm clock

The Secret Agent Alarm Clock is out now from Thumbs Up for £19.99

Christmas gifts for movie fans

Okay, so maybe you didn’t stretch to splashing out for James’ Bond’s Honda CRF250R motorbike from the Skyfall movie – you’d have needed £101,400 to win it on the eBay auction that raised funds for BBC Children in Need.

But here are a few other movie-inspired gadgets that should keep the film fans among your friends and family happy this Christmas.

xperia-t

Bond’s phone in that movie was of course the Sony Xperia T, with its 4.6in touchscreen, powered by Sony’s Bravia technology, along with a 13-megapixel camera. The phone also has Walkman and xLOUD technology for listening to your favourite tunes and is Playstation certified for games fans.
From £399, more at Sony Mobile.

The Force will definitely be with Santa this Christmas, as there’s a whole host of treats for Star Wars fans.

Remote-Control-r2D2

Who knew you could live without an Inflatable R2D2, for instance? Bring your favourite droid to life with the aid of a foot pump. The remote controlled inflatable R2D2 also self-corrects if it falls over.
Inflatable R2D2, £49.99 from Find Me A Gift.

Star-Wars-Alarm-Clock

Now you Can throw things at the walls, as part of your Jedi Training. This Star Wars Alarm Clock, which has been designed to look like a Jedi Training Remote costs £19.99 and can only be switched off is you throw it against the wall!

Spiderman-Glove

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can – and now you can too – well okay, you probably won’t go swinging from building to building and fighting crime, but you can shoot webs with the Hasbro Amazing Spider-Man Mega Blaster Web Shooter With Glove.

SpiderMan-Glove-kit

The web shooter has been reinvented based on the latest costume and web shooters from the upcoming film, The Amazing Spider-Man. For the first time, Spider-Man will have mechanical web shooters in the movie and this Christmas you can play along with this glove and shooter combo, which shoots a fun ‘web’ string. Toys R Us, £22.99

R2D2-money-bank

Keep your savings out of harm’s way by hiding them in this R2D2-shaped money box, which can only be opened with a secret four-digit code. It features sound and light effects and a free app can be downloaded onto your Phone to really get the best out of the device. The moneybox costs £29.99 from Find Me A Gift.

Gear4: iOS docks of the future

Gear4, one of the leaders in the iPad dock market, invited us to have a play with some of their up and coming iOS accessories. The biggest challenge Gear4 see for the rest of the year is the increasing adoption of wireless audio protocols in docks – both Bluetooth and AirPlay.

Gear4

Gear4’s AirZone Series fully commits to Apple’s AirPlay standard with pretty much no other connectivity options – bar a line in port at the back. Aesthetically the results are very pleasing – it’s a very streamlined design with very few controls. They’ve put some thought into the set up too so you can be up and running with a simple button press – a welcome addition as this is been a minor headache with some of the other docks I’ve had to configure in my time. And beyond aesthetics it sounds pretty good too.

Bluetooth is still very much a player and there StreetParty Wireless is a very cool portable BlueTooth stereo speaker with a built-in speakerphone. In a similar fashion to the AirZone, controls are pretty minimal, with volume and mic control and little else, but I’m guessing Gear4 think (probably quite correctly) that your phone will be in your pocket anyway. You can get up to 8 hours out of the rechargeable lithium ion battery.

Staying put? The Xorb Wireless is a 2.1 30W stereo Bluetooth speaker with excellent bass and a great bowling ball-esque design.

The most interesting dock on display was the “appcessory” the Renew SleepClock – a non-contact sleep monitor and bedside speaker. Tracking your sleep cycle, the Renew SleepClock wakes you at *exactly* the right moment, theoretically leaving your refreshed and ready to tackle the day. It also monitors all your sleep patterns so you can see your “sleep efficency” (and if someone asks if you slept well you can give them exact measurements). It does all this though a built-in sensors so you don’t have to strap yourself into things before you sleep.

For more details head to www.gear4.com

Amplicomms TCL210 travel clock: Shake yourself awake

If you need to be shaken awake, here’s an alarm clock that can do it for you. The amplicomms TCL210 Travel Clock has been designed to make the earth move for anyone who is suffering from jet lag, having to wake up at some god-awful time to catch a flight, or indeed for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.

Amplicomms-TCL-210-Travel

The clock has been cleverly designed with a pillow clip, so that you can pop it under your pillow or attach it to a bedside table, and be shaken awake thanks to a powerful vibrate setting. A bright light switches on when the alarm goes off, so you can easily see the time, and the display features a large font so that it’s easy to read when you’re a bit bleary-eyed.

It’s also been designed to be useful if you’re camping, or perhaps in an unfamiliar hotel room – if you can’t find the light switch (or there isn’t one) then the torchlight can be turned on at the touch of a button.

The clock is made for travelling; it’s lightweight at 140g and portable, and the makers claim that three AA batteries should last up to 10 months – more than enough to get you through a few trips away or even an extended travelling trip.

There are three settings for the alarm volume – depending on how hard you are to wake up, and where you are – you don’t want to be waking up fellow slumberers in a shared backpackers hostel for instance. You can also choose whether you have an audio alarm, bright flashing light or vibrating alarm.

The clock also displays the room temperature, should that be important to you – it might be of value to parents with young babies, for instance.

There are cheaper clocks out there, but the amplicomms TCL210 is not extortionate at £32.99, and is available at www.bootshearingcare.com

Be a diamond geezer with the latest iPhone dock from RED5

iPhone docks are generally ten a penny, and here at Latest Gadgets Towers we’re always receiving press releases about them, so they really need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.

BlackDiamond

And the latest one to hit our inbox from RED5 certainly has a bit of a twist. The Black Diamond iPhone Dock from Thumbs Up is a spherical shaped dock that has an added bonus. Slip the iPhone in the dock and the Black Diamond comes to life, becoming a sound-sensitive mood lamp.

So you can relax while the lights slowly change – or create your own disco lighting in your bedroom. – while you charge up your smartphone.

To work, your iPhone must be running a free app from Thumbs Up. This allows you to choose between a number of different lighting effects, including Flames, Plasma, Breath, Lightning and Rainbow.

To change the light setting, simply tap the Diamond twice and the sound sensor will switch it to the next mode. Tap again once you’re happy with the setting.

And as welll as putting on a light show, the dock will also charge up your phone if you connect it to your computer using the supplied USB cable.

The Black Diamond also has alarm and sleep functions, and while it will be quite compelling to some, and is far from your average boring dock, we reckon £69.95 is quite a price to pay for a light show.

Available from Red5

Wakey Wakey Shine and Rise: The Philips Light Alarm clock

As someone who gets up at 5 am pretty much every morning, I appreciate a good alarm clock. Being rudely jolted out of bed every morning by the “Time’s Up” siren from GoldenEye is pretty effective but it also puts me in a foul mood for at least a couple of house so there has to be a better way.

Wake-Up-Light-New

I’ve looked at (and loved) light-based alarm clocks before so I was curious to see what expert light-maker Philips would bring to the party with the Philips Wake Up Light.

As you’d expect from Philips, the’ve brought their A-game in terms of build quality and the Wake Up Light feels robust and as a mid-range device should. I’ve tried other lights that were just a bulb encased in plastic and a little bit of a bed-side eyesore so it’s good to know that there are good looking options out there.

In terms of features the Wake Up Light is no slouch and Philips have packed a lot in. The most important thing obviously, is the 250 lux halogen lamp, which gets incredibly bright when needed, making it pretty impossible to sleep through. Like all light-based alarm clocks, it slowly bathes the room with light – something 80% of surveyed Philips users agree is a more pleasant way to wake up.

However Philips have also added in so ways to personalise your waking experience. If you find the sound of John Humphries lambasting politicians soothing you can use the built in FM radio to wake up to Radio 4’s Today programme. If you think forests sounds or birds tweeting (@Robin88: Got up late again – No worms for me!) is more soothing then you can wake either of these. “No, that’s still not good enough. Neither babbling brooks nor babbling TV presenters can rouse me.” Well curiously picky person, Philips have you covered with a USB port that means you can wake up to any sound you choose.

There’s a smart-snooze tap anywhere function and you can also programme two alarms and flick between them (and off) via a little metal toggle at the back. You can also take charge of the way you fall asleep via a Dusk simulator, which is basically a naturally dimming light.

The Philips Wake Up Light is available from Argos and Boots for £130

Philips are recruiting people to take part in their ‘Make me a morning person challenge’ on Facebook which you should check out if you decide to get one.

Edifier Tick Tock Dock review

Despite doing it without fail every day of my life, waking up is a hard business that I’ve not managed to improve on with age. Nas had the right idea. Maybe next year I’ll get the hang of it. Until then I find myself relying on a series of gadgets and old fashioned techniques to free myself from Morpheus’s clutches. I’ve tried sleeping with the curtains open, so warm sun rays bathe my face with light. I’ve also tried fake sun rays from alarm clocks that emulate daylight. But nothing works quite as well as piercing noises from iPhone to jolt me back to consciousness – I’m partial to the Siren sounds as it reminds me of the time’s up sound on GoldenEye on the N64. I haven’t woken up, startled, mumbling “well of course you won – you were playing with Odd Job” but it’s only a matter of time.

TickTockDock

Of course a vanilla iPhone just sitting on my bedside is no fun and there are many ways to enhance this – the newest and shiniest of which is the Tick Tock Dock alarm clock speaker system by Edifier. Taking a page out of the book of many, many apps, the Tick Tock Dock adopts skeumorphic design and looks like an old fashioned alarm clock. Not that looks are everything, but the design of the Tick Tock Dock is, much like the name, incredibly charming.

The Tick Tock Dock has two 360 degree omni-directional full range speakers so you can have some slightly less tinny sound by your bedside. The speakers are decent for something so small but won’t turn you into Radio Rahim if that’s what you’re looking for.

If you are a big fan of conventional radio without resort to apps like Wunderadio there is also a built in FM radio so you it’s not just an empty shell for iOS device. And non-iOS device users can use the auxiliary 3.5 mm input to allow other devices to play along.

The Tick Tock Dock is available in Black, Silver and Beige from Amazon at £59.99

Magicbox Tower iPod alarm dock review

More and more iPod dock alarm clocks seem to be hitting the market. After all it’s a natural fit – you have all that space by your bedside table, an iPod or iPhone (if you’re reading this your chances of owning one are oh so high) and a need to get up early. Whilst some tout an incredibly small form factor or an insanely cool look, magicbox are highlighting the Tower’s room-filling sound.

Magicbox-Tower

And fill the room it does. For something so small (it’s smaller than two tins of beans on top of each other or 15 cm if that’s how *you* measure things), the Magicbox Tower has an impressive bass-y sound, far less tinny than other iPod alarm clock docks I’ve come across. I’d happily use the Tower as an speaker without ever troubling the FM radio or alarm clock functions. The Tower is also surprisingly well built and has a nice solid feel to it. I didn’t drop my review unit (honest) but if I did, I’m pretty sure it’d be ok.

This multipurpose unit acts as an alarm, DAB/FM radio, iPod docking station and iPod charger and is compatible with all generations of the iPod and iPhone. The radio is also excellent, coming as it does, with an old fashioned telescopic metal aerial, instead of a wire which I’m used to seeing. Bundling in DAB radio is also a great addition at this price level and a nod towards the more advanced iPod docks on the market that come with amazing streaming capabilities (if you have the cash, look into the £200+ dock market and prepare to be blown away). There are also bundled station presets and you can scan for available stations.

The Magic Box Tower is about £70, placing it at the higher end of the alarm clock dock range. However for the price you get a DAB radio and a pretty amazing sounding iPod dock.