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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

When did clock radios become extinct?

After several days of fruitless searching in local stores, I am convinced that the humble bedside clock-radio/alarm clock (chronos cubiculum domesticus) has quietly passed from modern culture.

Perhaps it is because pretty much all cell phones have built in alarms these days.  Maybe it's because there are other home electronics such as stereos and televisions that can be set to turn on at a particular time.  But I have to tell you... I've been to dozens of stores looking for a new clock radio in the past week and have completely struck out.

The big electronic warehouse-type stores have every conceivable home convenience from curling irons to waffle irons... but when I ask to see some clock radios they all tell me that they stopped carrying them ages ago.

Similarly, when I've looked for this once-ubiquitous item in home stores and office-supply outlets, they too tell me that they no longer stock them.

One tchotchke store at the mall (you know... the kind that carries executive desk toys and tacky bartender accessories), had a modern incarnation of the venerable round-faced wind-up clock (with the two bells on top), but these were cheap imitations of the original and used a 9 volt battery instead of a mainspring.

The truth is, I have never really used the radio function on any of my alarm clocks, so I'm not going to be a fanatic about this feature being present.  But one would think that most electronic stores would have at least a few in stock, no???  What has happened to the public's need for alarm clocks???   When exactly did the humble bedside alarm clock become extinct???

I know that the possibility exists that I'm simply looking in the wrong places and that there is some alarm clock superstore out there where all the various models have been concentrated. 

But somehow I doubt it. 

Anyway, just on the off chance that one of you has a lead for me, let me tell you what I'm looking for in an alarm clock (my requirements are really quite modest):

1.  It must be rugged.  By this I mean it must be able to stand up to regular banging, as well as the odd toss across the bedroom on the rare occasions when operator error or divine intervention causes it to malfunction (this could, theoretically, explain my current search for a new clock radio).

2.  It must never malfunction nor be subject to operator error or divine intervention.  Ever. 

3.  It must have brightly lit numbers/face so that I can tell what time it is from across the room.

4.  It must not be so brightly lit as to bother other (ahem) sleepers in the room.

5.  It must have very well thought-out controls for setting and resetting the alarm and clock times, as well as for turning the alarm on and off.  If I can't perform these functions with one hand at 2:00AM after half a bottle of Merlot, I don't want it!

6.  It must have a snooze interval that makes sense (meaning I can do the mental math when half-asleep).  Intervals of 5 or 7 minutes are fine since I actually remember those two sections of my multiplication tables.  All others need not apply.

7.  The snooze bar must be large enough, and ergonomically located, so that any swat in the general direction of the clock will activate the snooze function.  Any clock whose snooze bar and alarm on/off control are close enough to one another as to be accidentally confused will have it's toss-resistance (see # 1 above) vigorously tested before being unceremoniously retired.

8.  It must have a 9v battery back-up so that the odd power outage in the middle of the night won't result in morning psychodramas.

10.  It must be loud without being too annoying.  By this I mean that it needs to be just loud enough to roust a hibernating bear without being so annoying as to cause frequent testing of its toss-resistance.

That's not too much to ask for, is it?

214_2

Posted by David Bogner on May 30, 2007 | Permalink

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I've never had a need for an alarm clock since I've had kids. Let's see how they stack up:

1. It must be rugged. By this I mean it must be able to stand up to regular banging

Pass

2. It must never malfunction

Almost Pass

3. It must have brightly lit numbers/face

Pass -- they talk

4. It must not be so brightly lit as to bother other (ahem) sleepers in the room.

Fail. Big time

5. It must have very well thought-out controls for setting and resetting the alarm and clock times

Fail.

6. It must have a snooze interval that makes sense (meaning I can do the mental math when half-asleep).

Can you remember 15 seconds? If so, Pass.

7. The snooze bar must be large enough, and ergonomically located, so that any swat in the general direction of the clock will activate the snooze function.

Head size > snooze bar... Pass

8. It must have a 9v battery back-up

Pass -- no battery needed

10. It must be loud without being too annoying.

Oh boy. Ain't no way they're passing this one.

Based on this, I wouldn't advise replacing your alarm clock with your (or my...) children.

Posted by: Mike Miller | May 30, 2007 10:27:07 AM

I think I've actually bought more or less the same radio alarm clock in Israel a few years ago. I do remember that it was difficult finding one. I think I found it across the street from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. It has a radio - which I use to wake up to. And it has a battery backup, and a decent snooze function.

If I remember correctly, it's important to buy an alarm clock in Israel, and not use an American one with a transformer, because the electrical frequency is different here (50 vs 60, IIRC). The clock uses the electrical cycles to keep the time, so an American one will eventually not be accurate.

You might be able to find one in the hardware store in Neve Daniel. (Have you checked it out since this post: http://bogieworks.blogs.com/treppenwitz/2006/06/photo_friday_vo_2.html
)?

But if you want something really fun and different - you could get this:

http://www.nandahome.com/products.clocky.html

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | May 30, 2007 10:56:00 AM

Trep,

I too had problems with this one when I first made Aliyah. However, the all-encompassing, yet tiny, electronics store downtown right off of the Ben Yehuda mall came through. I believe it's across from Nick's Hot Dogs, IIRC.

By the way, I don't know if you can find one with all the features requested, because frankly, I think you're a bit diva'ish on your clock radio demands.

Good Luck.

Posted by: dfb1968 | May 30, 2007 11:25:34 AM

I'm surprised to find you haven't checked with the guys in green yet. Or likewise, shouldn't you be sitting at the source for atomic bomb-proof nicknacks?

Oh, the dwaaahma. ;)

(we upgraded to one that has an additional beamer and sent my 20+ year-old one to be a radio from now on)

Posted by: Account Deleted | May 30, 2007 12:34:45 PM

I don't know if they meet all your requirements, but last I checked there were bedside alarm clocks at Home Center in the Hadar Mall (Talpiyot). Good luck.

Posted by: Sarah | May 30, 2007 12:43:52 PM

Interesting...still widely available in the US (e.g. Radio Shack). Also there are now iPod accessories that include clock-radio devices.
I think you left out an important qualification - and one that would require a uniquely Israeli model. My kids' alarm clocks have an option to set them for weekdays only - i.e. it wakes them up M-F but not Sat/Sun. Obviously would need modification for the Israeli work week...

Posted by: dov weinstock | May 30, 2007 1:11:04 PM

dfb- I don't think Nick's Hotdogs is still around on Ben Yehuda :)

trep-between the tachana merkazit, ben yehuda, and one of the major malls in Jerusalem, there should be something remotely in line with your, ah, demands.

220v...picky, picky :-P

Posted by: tnspr569 | May 30, 2007 2:42:37 PM

you can buy one in those men only gift stores - there is one in Malha mall on the first floor

Posted by: debby | May 30, 2007 2:54:18 PM

i had the same problem a few years ago when we made aliya -- i found one in sensor chashmal. the choices were extremely limited (i think they only had like two in stock!). ikea also carries alarm clocks but i don't think any of them are clock-radios. of course you could always go super high-end and buy a bose wave radio -- but then you'd probably have to take out a mortgage!

Posted by: nikki | May 30, 2007 3:27:18 PM

I'm not sure this clock meets all of your requirements, but don't let it get away!

http://www.nandahome.com/products.clocky.html

Posted by: Yaron | May 30, 2007 4:03:44 PM

...(this could, theoretically, explain my current search for a new clock radio.

could?! hmmmm....

...because frankly, I think you're a bit diva'ish on your clock radio demands.

dfb1968: it ain't the only thing he is diva'ish over....

Posted by: zahava | May 30, 2007 4:08:48 PM

Number 8 is the real issue here - I think Israel has given up on clock radios due to the power outages which occur with great frequency here. It just creates a very unreliable source for time keeping. In addition, most people can barely figure out how to set the time once, never mind several times a month. It's like a VCR, the time display just blinks away for years. And I don't think battery back-up will necessarily save you either, especially if the power is out for more than a couple of minutes.

We have opted for small, cheap, battery operated travel type alarm clocks for years - they are all over the house. They don't take up much space, they light up with a push button, the batteries last for years in them, and they have the added bonus of being Shabbat alarm clocks too if you like - you can set them on Friday to wake you for shul the next morning and they'll only ring for about a minute then shut off. Okay, so maybe you don't want to get to shul on time that badly but just know the option is available :) I say enjoy your stereo for music or talk radio and get yourself a battery powered alarm clock for your nightstand. Beep beep beep...


BTW, Does anybody really know what time it is........?

Posted by: Yeshara | May 30, 2007 4:18:47 PM

If you find one, please let me know, I have resorted to leaving my cellphone plugged in next to my bed for the time being, but this presents a problem on shabbat.

Posted by: Max Power | May 30, 2007 4:26:57 PM

oooooppsssss!

Grammar alert!!!!!

I should have said "It is not the only thing over which he is diva-ish."

Posted by: zahava | May 30, 2007 4:39:47 PM

Hi Trepp,

Why don't you see if there is one in the States that you like and I'll buy it for you as a gift and mail it to you?

It would be my pleasure and I know you already have my E-mail.

I was going to recommend Russian-made ones, but the springs ineveitably go... at least, all of mine have over the years.

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | May 30, 2007 5:23:25 PM

Zahava: ain't nothing wrong with using a preposition to end a sentence with. Besides, if yer gonna be that gramatically exact, then you mean "divus" (or "divo"), not "diva." :)

I must be one of those people: I never understood the purpose of the snooze bar. I set the alarm for when I want to get out of bed. If I want to sleep later, I set the alarm for later. I treasure my half-asleep state of mind far too much to spend it searching for the alarm clock...

Posted by: efrex | May 30, 2007 5:33:04 PM

efrex: allow me to explain....

the snooze button, for those of us who are night-owls and not the early-bird, is sort of like a wake-up drill.... it allows your body to practise getting up without actually doing it....

Posted by: zahava | May 30, 2007 5:37:34 PM

Sorry I can't help you out. Since most cellphones now come with built-in alarm clocks, that's what I've been using. Unfortunately, while there is a snooze button, by the time it goes off after 10 minutes, my cellphone is under my pillow.

I suppose I could ask my brother to send you the small souvenir alarm clock he picked up on his last trip to the Emirates. It cranks up with "Allah U Akbar!" and goes off six times a day. :)

Posted by: jennifer | May 30, 2007 6:04:40 PM

What do you need an alarm clock for. Add a few more Bogners to the brood and you can add many more years of a guaranteed wake up call. ;)

Posted by: Jack | May 30, 2007 6:20:13 PM


I'm sitting here at the office trying to keep something remotely resembling a straight face and not fall off my computer chair laughing. :) :) :)

Kids as alarm clocks. What a concept. :) :) :)

Posted by: Shira Salamone | May 30, 2007 7:15:05 PM

funny.. we stopped needing ours AFTER the kids. You see - they had to be at the bus stop at a precise time. This necessitated the alarm (which by the way we use the radio to wake up as those other noises are simply to jarring)
Now... us empty nesters can wake naturally. It’s so much more pleasant)

Posted by: weese | May 30, 2007 7:53:26 PM

yes. I think your cell phone theory is right. same goes for people looking for CD / Tape players today. It is getting harder and harder due to the advent of MP3 players.

Nice blog!
what do u think of my site?
http://www.simpletoremember.com

Posted by: David | May 30, 2007 7:59:30 PM

The first electronic appliance I ever bought in Israel, right after I made aliya, was an alarm clock radio, which I bought fifteen years ago somewhere on Rehov Strauss.
I haven't used it in years; the birds and the cats outside wake me up every morning at 5.

Posted by: mootcourt | May 30, 2007 11:34:13 PM

Ummm...odd you should mention it. I was cleaning my room today and realized that my clock that I bought months ago is still sitting on my desk, unused. I haven't checked if it matches ALL of your criteria, but you're welcome to it. I may be in your general area (the Gush) on Friday.

Posted by: ilan | May 31, 2007 12:05:33 AM

We have five alarm clocks. Clocks, not radio chuchikim.

One near the bed: 7:00 AM.
A different sounding one a little further away: 7:10 AM.
One just like the first, but in a bookcase across the room: 7:25 AM.
One in the other room that goes off in a barely audible series of peeps whenever it feels like.
An electronic monkey in the other room that sounds like it's being killed: 8: AM.

I used to have one under the bed. Maybe it's still there. If it is, the battery is dead. But I haven't looked in years - there's stuff under there that frightens me.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | May 31, 2007 1:09:06 AM

... not radio chuchikim.

Should read 'not radio chuPchikim'.

Shee. Failed Bognevrit on the first go.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | May 31, 2007 1:12:41 AM

Try either doing a search for a travel alarm clock (some of which wil have the features you want), or else, er, if you don't mind shipping from the US, try Archie McPhee. They're basically a store that sells weird toys and pranks, but some of them are alarm clocks. Esepcially good if you want your alarm clock to play a theme song from a Bollywood movie or chant religious poems in Urdu or the like.

Posted by: Kol Ra'ash Gadol | May 31, 2007 2:06:16 AM

Thinkgeek has a pretty nice selection of nifty alarm clocks, though I'm sure most of them would fail your fairly stringent criteria:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/

I'm personally a fan of this one:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/91f2/

Anywho, I'm sure that you can find stuff online that will do the trick. I haven't tried looking for one since I was 7 or so, so I'm afraid I can't be more help than that.

Good luck!

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | May 31, 2007 2:36:07 AM

Have you seen this? http://www.firebox.com/index.html?dir=firebox&action=product&pid=1681

My husband has an atomic battery powered alarm clock that meets most of your criteria. He got a new plug in clock that I don't much like b/c it's too bright for my eyes -- he's convinced my eyelids are defective.

Dumb question . . .is there an atomic clock signal somewhere in Israel? I love that I don't have to remember to change the time on his clock.

Posted by: AnnieD | May 31, 2007 4:30:12 AM

Zahava,

"the snooze button, for those of us who are night-owls and not the early-bird, is sort of like a wake-up drill.... it allows your body to practise getting up without actually doing it...."

I heard that. My snooze button gets banged several times for that reason.

Posted by: K Newman | May 31, 2007 8:33:07 AM

AnnieD,

That clock is probably set to use one of the signals from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Station WWV) in the US. Several other countries, including Canada, India and Russia, broadcast time ticks as well.

Posted by: K Newman | May 31, 2007 8:56:23 AM

David,

What you need is one of those Big Ben wind-up clocks they sell in the Navy Exchange. You can hum one of those across the room several times before it breaks and they're loud enough to wake the dead.

Mine survived several high-velocity impacts in a barracks room.

Posted by: K Newman | May 31, 2007 8:59:53 AM

My 5 year old Philips AJ343 doesn"t meet your requirements, but it meets mine. At the store, I set off the alarms. I hate screechy or grating wake up sounds. I hate simple and monotonous beat repetition. My Philips has a pleasant but mid-to-high range rhythmic chirp which is a very nice way to start the day. :-)

Posted by: christopher | May 31, 2007 9:43:51 AM

Mike Miller... Hah! I was tempted to add your comment to the actual post since it is far funnier than anything I came up with! :-) Thanks.

Dave (Balashon)... I can barely catch the alarm clock when it is stationary... you want to get me a moving target???

dfb1968... Diva? Moi? No, this is simply a purchase one makes once every decade or so and it has a profound affect on the daily quality of one's life. I think that's worth making some demands, no?

a. ... What, pray tell, is a 'beamer'?

Sarah... Yeah, they have those cheap Taiwanese ones that are guaranteed to last until you get home. I'm looking to make a little more of a commitment here. :-)

dov weinstock... Much appreciated, but see Dave's comment above. Electric clocks regulate themselves by using the local current. A 110v clock made for use in the US will keep lousy time over here.

tnspr569... So far nadda.

debby... Those are the 'tchotchke' stores I referred to in my post. The one or two alarm clocks they have are cheap models that won't last more than a couple of weeks of my rough handling in the morning.

nikki... Ooh you touched a sore spot there. When we made aliyah I had to give away my beloved Bose Wave radio. I'm still pining for it.

Yaron... Wow, you're the second commenter to recommend that one. Was it going around in an email or something? :-)

Zahava... Just because you fished my old alarm clock out of the trash and decided to try to use it doesn't give you the right to gloat.

Yeshara... I need something bigger than that or it gets knocked off my night table or buried under stuff.

Max Power... Will do. the cell phone has not been working for me the past couple of days.

Maksim-Smelchak ... I appreciate that but as Dave said above, clocks from the US won't work here... even on a transformer because they take their time regulation from the frequency in the electrical current. It is different here.

efrex... You are a strange man. Seriously.

jennifer... And when you forget to put your cell phone next to your bed (as I did last night)?????

Jack... Are you volunteering for babysitting duty?

Shira Salamone... Yeah, that cracked me up too.

weese... I'm guessing you have a flex-time arrangement with your office?

David... Hey, I have no problem with a little self-promotion. But it would have been a little smoother if you had a link to my site on yours before trying to glom onto my traffic. :-)

mootcourt... I'm guessing the sound of cats eating birds would be a little unsettling to wake up to every day, no?

ilan... That is very nice of you. Drop me a note with your phone number and I'll give you a call (treppenwitz at gmail dot com)

Back of the Hill... The only thing missing from your set-up is some device that would pour cold water onto your bedsheets after you get up so you couldn't climb back in. :-)

Kol Ra'ash Gadol... There are plenty of great alarm clocks online, but they all have the 220v problem I described above. I need an alarm that is designed for this current. a transformer won't do. Thanks though.

matlabfreak.. OK people, I live in a place with 220v current. Think geek is a great site but it doesn't have anything I can use here (at least anything that plugs in).

AnnieD... I have asked the same question and so far the answer I keep getting is that no, Israel does not have a broadcast signal that could be used by those nifty 'atomic' clocks.

K Newman... I have a nice wind up Chelsea clock that 'might' have been liberated from Sonar Control when I got out. ;-)

christopher... Heh, that reminds me of a 'fun things to do' email I got a couple of years ago. It said to go to the alarm clock section of a department store and set all the alarms to go off a minute apart over the course of several hours. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 31, 2007 12:10:48 PM

Quite right.... simply fishing the clock out of the garbage to use doesn't give me the right to gloat....

Using it successfully -- as I have for a week now -- THAT is what gives me the right to gloat! :-)

Hmmm.... perhaps the operator error theory wasn't so theoretical?!

Don't thank me.... I'm a giver.

Posted by: zahava | May 31, 2007 12:32:17 PM

I would like to recommend a good alarm clock that has triple alarms for a week. Check www.WeekdayAlarmClock.com.

Posted by: Hunter Xu | May 31, 2007 3:59:47 PM

I just googled "220v alarm clock" and this is the first result I got:
http://bargainoffers.com/catalog/sanyo-rm50-alarm-clock-radio-220v-p-606.html

Maybe you've done this already, but I think it looks pretty promising.

I once had a roommate in Israel who didn't know about the 110v/220v issue. She couldn't figure out why her clock was losing time everyday!

Posted by: Alex | May 31, 2007 4:18:45 PM

Jack... Are you volunteering for babysitting duty?

Sure. I bet that there are all sorts of nifty tricks that I can teach Yonah and the triplets. ;)

Posted by: Jack | May 31, 2007 6:17:34 PM

Back of the Hill... The only thing missing from your set-up is some device that would pour cold water onto your bedsheets after you get up so you couldn't climb back in. :-)

Savage Kitten has been known to arrange a wet wash cloth over my face and pummel me with a rolled-up newspaper if I sleep late. Does that count?

Posted by: Back of the Hill | Jun 1, 2007 3:43:30 AM

I saw an alarm clock that seemed to meet at least some of your criterion in my aunt and uncle's house. My aunt said that alarm clocks would be found at hardware stores (definitely ACE Hardware) and even some grocery stores that have electronics sections (like Kimat Chinam in Bet Shemesh).

I'm surprised that Yonah isn't the human alarm clock in your house.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jun 1, 2007 11:55:13 AM

zahava... Not helping.

Hunter Xu... Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Alex... The problem is that most of the results I get with that search are abroad. I'm not keen to pay the value of the clock in duty when it arrives.

Jack... Bite your tongue.

Back of the Hill... That sounds suspiciously like what they recommend for housebreaking puppies. ;-)

tnspr569... Struck out at Ace.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 3, 2007 9:14:40 AM

Interesting i purchased a cool one at www.gofrostfire.com

Posted by: chris | May 11, 2008 7:49:33 PM

I'm having the same problem. My research has led me here:

www.etoncorp.com

Although this comment on your post is worrisome:

"If I remember correctly, it's important to buy an alarm clock in Israel, and not use an American one with a transformer, because the electrical frequency is different here (50 vs 60, IIRC). The clock uses the electrical cycles to keep the time, so an American one will eventually not be accurate."
(Mike Miller | May 30, 2007 10:27:07 AM)

Posted by: jda10014 | May 16, 2008 7:40:42 AM

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