Re(al)view: Philips Wake-Up Light

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For most of us, waking up each morning is a process of being jabbed back into consciousness via the blare of music or the annoying beep of an alarm clock. But what if you could ease from the unconscious to the conscious, following the natural progression we once enjoyed when we followed the light cycles of the sun (many of us get up before the crack of dawn, so this may be a foreign concept). This week while staying over at the Philips Digital Media Event, we received a first hand opportunity to give the Philips Wake-Up Light a try as our morning alarm...

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Although we weren't exactly skeptical about the Wake-Up Light, we approached it with a bit of caution since we weren't acquainted with a light-based system, using our iPod Touch as a secondary morning alarm just in case the gentle sounds of bird chirps and a sunlight-strength lumen lighting system wasn't enough to wake us up each morning. The technology/solution has been used for years abroad, but isn't commonly offered domestically, as Americans seem to prefer the traditional audio alarm system. From our short time with the Philips Wake-Up Light, we realize we might be on the wrong side of the bed, so to speak, when it comes to alarm clock systems.

Users have the option to choose from several sounds, all remarkably clear in tone at any volume (we could hear one of our neighbor's bird chirps as we passed by their room), our personal favourite being an ambient and warm repetitive note that sure beats the pants off the typical high pitched kick in the ear drum that makes waking each morning less about waking into the day than being yanked right into it. Of course, the wake up chime itself may not be enough to wake up sleepyheads who use the snooze button regularly, the innovation being the alarm's sunrise simulating light system that increasingly brightens into your programmed wake-up hour. Impressively, the light did exactly what it advertises to do, using both an increasing volume partnered with the progressive lighting over a 30 minute span to ease us into consciousness. And although the Philips' Wake-Up Light cannot make up for the lack of sleep we experienced during our stay, the system did make the process of waking up an easier and more pleasant experience (it also might have had something to do with the fact we were sleeping in a luxe king sized mattress).

The form factor is minimal and handsome, albeit a bit larger than a typical bedside alarm clock. We'd love to see a horizontal-rectangular version for those of us with limited bedside space. But considering this double as a bedside lamp, the Philips Wake-Up Light may save room by eliminating the need for a separate lamp. The user interface is simple enough to operate with nary a gander at any instructions, with a red display which glows from behind its milky white plastic housing with icons and numbers that are all practically self explanatory for use. The Wake-Up Light is a bit easy to accidentally change hour/alarm settings in the process of programming a new hour, but we reckon this is mostly due to being newly acquainted with the clock. A metallic switch on the lower right seems a little out of place on the otherwise flush mount form (note, we're not as fond of the HF3461 model, but it removes the out of place switch), but otherwise the Philips Wake-Up Light's utility as unintrusive alarm and bedside lamp make it a more than worthy option as a bedside alarm.