Top five digital radio alarm clocks for 2020
Getting up in the morning can be a struggle, especially if you’re waking up to the sound of a shrill alarm. Investing in a good digital alarm clock – one that wakes you gently with a soft crescendo – will help you start the day on the right note.
We've picked out five of the best digital radio alarm clocks, with a range of designs to suit your preferences. Some are made specifically to be brilliant bedside companions, and others are general-use radios that scored highly for their suitability as DAB radio alarm clocks. And we've also highlighted three Don't Buy radios so you know what you need to avoid.
Table notes: Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at January 2020.
And here are three to avoid
Not all radio alarm clocks are equal, and even dedicated ones supposedly designed purely for bedside use can perform their task poorly. These are some of the worst radios from our testing that were seemingly suitable for alarm clock use. We've seen digital radio alarm clocks with impossibly small snooze buttons, tiny hard-to-read screens and ones with such low volume you might not wake up at all. Be sure to avoid these duds if you see them on the high street or online.
How to choose the best alarm clock radio
A good digital alarm clock can cost anything from £50 up to £250. If you like using your alarm clock radio’s snooze button to grab a few more minutes’ sleep, it’s really important to consider its size and how easy it is to reach. Ideally it should be placed somewhere prominent like on a bedside table, so you don’t struggle to find it when you’re drowsy.
Don’t forget to also look at the size of the other buttons and dials, and how they’re labelled. Some radios may look sleek, but you’ll quickly get frustrated if they're style over substance.
And if you like falling asleep to the radio as well as waking up to it, look for a radio alarm clock with a sleep timer that turns the radio off after a set period of time.
Features to consider for a good night's sleep
- Choice of alarm: Most bedside digital radios offer a choice of alarm sounds, including your favourite radio station, a buzzer or a bell tone, so you're not stuck with an alarm that doesn't work for you or you begin to sleep through.
- Dual independent alarms: Many dedicated DAB radio alarm clocks allow you to set multiple alarms independently, which is ideal if you and your partner wake up at different times or if you want to set a later time for the weekend.
- Large screen: Dedicated digital alarm clock radios have a much larger screen than typical tabletop or portable radios. If you want to be able to check the time at a glance, pick one with a large, clear display. In addition to showing the time, some radios show track titles, programme names and what’s coming up next.
- Screen brightness: Screens need to be bright enough to read but not so bright they keep you up at night. The best DAB radio alarm clocks will auto-adjust their screen brightness to match the room, and let you select different levels of screen brightness manually.
- Clock design: Most will let you choose whether to show a 12 or a 24-hour clock. Some models have automatic clock updates, so you won’t need to adjust them for daylight-saving time and can be confident they're very precise.
Other features to look out for
- Charging your portable devices: Some have handy USB sockets to charge your portable devices, without taking up another mains socket.
- Bluetooth streaming: The latest DAB radio alarm clocks often support Bluetooth, which allows you to stream any audio you like from your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device through the radio's speakers.
- CD player: This is useful if you have a treasured CD music collection
- Wi-fi for music streaming: Radios with wi-fi - called internet radios - often support music streaming services such as Spotify (may require subscriptions)