The Best Clock Radios of 2018

The smartphone has replaced most other forms of technology in everyday life--it's a supercomputer, a music player, a GPS, a laptop, TV, and even, on a blue moon, a phone.

Yet people still like to use alarm clocks.

And when you wake up to your favorite radio station, how bad can in the morning be? Here's a break down of the best clock radio options on the market.

BOCTOP

BOCTOP as a company is something of a curiosity, as they don't have a specific area of focus. They've even been known to produce the occasional product without a single electronic component.

So you might be skeptical of a radio alarm clock from this company. In fact, they produced one of the least expensive clock radios on this list.

It's a good clock radio, but given that it's among the cheapest options here, you should tailor your expectations accordingly.

Pros

The price is definitely a plus where this option is concerned: the BOCTOP only costs $21.99 on Amazon.

With regards to the alarm, this clock definitely gets the job done, as the alarm is plenty loud enough to wake the dead. Even if you're an unusually heavy sleeper, you'll be hard-pressed to sleep through the noise this clock can generate. It also has a gradual alarm increase, making the alarm difficult to ignore.

It also has a USB charging port, which means it can double as a phone charger (one less wall outlet used up at night!) Of course, that can lead to distractions in the morning once you turn the alarm off, but that's between you and your phone.

Cons

With all that in mind, as noted earlier, this is one of the cheaper options listed here. When it comes to alarm clock radios, you get what you pay for.

The radio reception on this clock is good, though the sound quality isn't the best. There's also the matter of the alarm itself.

It's certainly loud enough to wake the dead, which is great news. Unless, of course, you have neighbors or roommates who will murder you when your alarm wakes them up, as there is no volume control on this clock.

Mesqool AM/FM Digital Dimmable Clock

Whereas BOCTOP is all over the board, Mesqool is a brand that is a known name in the business. They're up for innovating and changing the way people interact with their clocks.

It shows in the Mesqool AM/FM Digital Dimmable Projection Alarm Clock, which is designed to be future-proof (and look as though it stepped out of the future).

It's also a price comparable to the BOCTOP at $26.99 on Amazon. For the features you get, it's a pretty reasonable price tag.

Pros

The Mesqool AM/FM is a compact, sleek unit with a rectangular body less than 7-inches long and 2-inches wide, which leaves plenty of space on your nightstand.

Yet the display is large (1.8 inches) with crystal clear LED red lighting. The brightness can be adjusted to three levels, but you can still read the clock from anywhere in the room.

On the side is the projector (which is where the projection part of the name comes from). It can project the time on the wall or ceiling and rotates 180 degrees.

The speaker is in the back and is loud enough to wake just about anyone. And unlike the previous option, it allows for volume control (so that you don't wake up feeling like you sleep-walked into a rock concert).

You have two options with the alarm: you can set it to a buzzer tone or preset a radio station. The snooze can be set at 9-minute intervals, and there's a sleep timer option that will turn the radio off after a specified period of time.

Cons

There are, of course, a few downsides, though not many, where this clock is concerned.

The snooze button is a bit small (which may or may not actually be a downside, depending on your perspective). The speaker is also small, and while it does well with high and mid tones, it stumbles a bit on the bass, so if you like to wake up to the beat drop, it's something to keep in mind.

iHome iBT29BC

If you like a clock that looks like it belongs with your iArmy (iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc.) then this clock will definitely tickle your fancy.

In fact, if you remember the old-school Apple computers (the giant clunky ones back in Ye Olden Days) this clock might remind you of a smaller, updated version of those computers.

A unique, funky, and very techie-oriented version of those computers.

Pros

Most alarm clocks are blocky and clunky (you know, the classic kind in commercials that look like bricks you could throw at someone). This one is actually spherical, which makes it look decidedly more modern than other options here.

Plus, you can choose from up to five color options with the press of a button. The color can also coordinate with waking up--the display can change color according to six different wake-up modes.

It has a couple different audio options. It offers the FM radio option with six presets, but it also allows Bluetooth audio and music streaming through an integrated audio speaker.

Cons

You can't get the fancy alarm clocks without paying the price.

As you probably noticed, this option is much more high-tech than the previous two, and as you can probably guess, it also costs more--about $49.95 on Amazon.

And when you set it up, you'll notice the high-tech aspect, as the display is more complicated to set up than the other options. While it is compatible with several different Apple and Android smartphones, some customers have complained that it doesn't have a long life.

That said, it does have a one-year warranty, so don't hesitate to contact the manufacturer if you run into any issues.

JBL Horizon

There are a couple of brand-new companies on this list. But sometimes, you want a company that you know you can trust to give you a great product.

In that case, JBL is your company.

JBL brings nearly a century of experience making great audio electronics, and it shows in the JBL Horizon, arguably one of the best-sounding radio alarm clocks on this list.

That attention to quality is evident through the entire clock, and all of its functions show JBL's commitment to stellar workmanship. It has a phenomenal overall quality that won't disappoint you, no matter how many Mondays it drags you out of bed.

Pros

JBL pays attention to details, even factors that seem basic to the design of the clock, like the alarm.

Seems like the simplest part of the clock, right? And yet, JBL takes the time to make sure that even the alarm is significantly better than most.

For one thing, it's one of the few clocks on this list that will wake you up more gently by introducing soft LED light as well as audio. On top of that, the audio alarm is fully customizable--you can even upload an alarm sound that you like.

In fact, the JBL exceeds expectations on almost any standard a customer can offer. If you want a speaker, it can act as a speaker by connecting to your smart device via Bluetooth. If you need to charge, it has two USB ports that are compatible with any smart device.

Oh, and it's the best radio on this list at 10 RMS watts, which is impressive in a market that doesn't often see this standard.

Cons

You almost can't name any cons for this particular product, but if you must, two specific cons come to mind.

First, at $94.80 on Amazon, it's one of the most expensive products on this list.

Second, as it is high-tech, it's not always the most intuitive to use, but it's a clean, wonderfully functional clock once you figure out the basics.

Sangean RCR-20

Sangean is something of an interesting company. They've been in the market garnering experience and putting out products for 45 years, but they haven't hit a major breakthrough that sets them ahead of the crowd.

That's good news for you since they're one of the best-kept secrets in electronics.

Sangean has a certain pattern of performance: they meet all industry expectations and focus on exceeding them on a few key fronts. The Sangean RCR-20 is a classic example.

Pros

Lucky for you, one of the areas the Sangean RCR-20 excels in is sound. It's up there with the JBL as one of the best-sounding clock radios available.

If anything, Sangean understands that to excel in a niche market, you have to adapt to improve the lifespan of your product. This radio offers the best connectivity options, including Bluetooth as well as a 3.5 mm audio input jack and two USB ports that double as charging stations and connection points.

On top of that, this clock offers a great all-around alarm clock experience. There are dual alarms if you and your partner want one clock to work for both of you, and there are 18 preset radio channels to choose from.

There's also a remote control, so whether you're just waking up or want to play music from across the room, this clock radio can still work for you.

Cons

Like the JBL, the downsides of this particular product are few and far between.

You get the functionality you pay for, and the Sangean RCR-20 is the second most expensive on this list ($78.79 on Amazon) after the JBL.

It's also a bit less intuitive to use since it is a high-tech product, but that problem resolves itself as you get used to the clock.

iHome iBT232

Finally, there's the iHome iBT232, another product from the iHome company mentioned earlier.

This is an innovator company--you could argue that they helped launch the online-only business model.

Even so, they're a company focused on the consumer, prioritizing value over features and convenience over performance. It shows in this clock, which is one of the best clock radio options under $50.

Pros

If you want a clock that's clever--a clock that lets you stay connected to the internet of things and smart devices, i.e. Alexa and your iPhone--this clock will do that for you. It can function with various voice interactions, so if you tell your clock to turn off in the morning, it will actually listen.

In fact, you can control this clock with a variety of voice commands, so you can stop fighting to figure out how certain functions work and just tell the clock to change them for you.

It's also highly compatible with your smartphone. Seriously--it can support phone calls, and it comes with a built-in microphone and broad compatibility.

Like many options listed here, the iHome iBT232 offers Bluetooth streaming, but it goes one step further by allowing you to stream music from a variety of popular music streaming apps like Spotify and iHeart Radio.

Of course, if the wireless isn't working for some reason (or if, after all that, you feel like going old-school) there's a 3.5 mm aux jack.

Cons

As cons go, the downsides of this clock depend largely on what your priorities are.

On the one hand, this clock is more expensive than the Mesqool or BOCTOP, but it's also less than the Sangean or JBL. It's a middle ground at $46.95 on Amazon, which is a decent price given the functionality.

It also isn't the easiest to use, but as noted, you can use voice controls to do what you can't figure out manually. It's also not the best display, but that depends on how much of your clock radio you want to be a clock versus a radio.

Helping You Find the Best Clock Radio For You

You're a busy person with a busy job and a lot to get done in the day. You can't afford to sleep through your morning wake-up call. So if music is what gets you going in the morning, you need to find the best clock radio to suit your needs and budget.

For more tips and reviews of great electronics to make your life a little easier, check out the Two Way Signal website.

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