on 21 September 2013
We bought this to replace the £100 Lumie Bodyclock Advanced 200, which lasted for 6 years but didn't survive its first bulb failure. There were things we loved about the Lumie - the subtleness of the light, the 'sunset' feature - but there were also things that were surprisingly awful: the clock gained about 30 seconds every day, setting it up felt like using a digital watch from the 80s, and the whole thing felt flimsy and badly made, and worth nowhere near the asking price.
The Philips has all the strengths of the Lumie and none of the weaknesses. It feels like a premium product (as it should for this money), with a reassuring weight and obvious build quality. The sunset/sunrise feature is if anything better graduated than the Lumie, and the change in colour tone, although I thought it might be a gimmick, in fact adds to this and makes the sunrise feel more natural and less abrupt, although we never used to think the Lumie was poor in this regard. The LEDs that the Philips uses appear to be just as effective, if not more so, than the halogen lamp that the Lumie relied on, and we're hoping will also have a reasonably lengthy life, since I don't think they can be replaced.
The user interface is much more fitting for a £100 clock - it boasts a dimmable display that appears to float on the surface of the clock, and four tiny LED marker lights for the principal controls, which increase in brightness as your finger approaches the clock. We've got more options in the way of sunrise/sunset times, and two independent alarms. There are apparently a host of bird noises it will emit as the light comes on, but you should be reassured that these can be silenced, and the wake-up effect of the sunrise is perfectly sufficient for getting us out of bed. The only feature which we miss from the Lumie (or at least haven't yet found on the Philips) is the automatic shut-off of the sunrise alarm, which happened approximately 10 minutes after reaching maximum illumination. This is particularly useful to prevent the bulb burning out if you forget to switch off the alarm whilst on holiday, and also if, like us, you have small children who occasionally wake you up and force you to begin your day before the sunrise alarm has come on...
We've only had it a couple of weeks, and there are a few features we've not used, and probably never will (the built-in FM radio, aforesaid bird noises) but it feels like a luxury item and I sincerely hope that our very positive first impressions are borne out by long service. It's very expensive, but it's so good that you don't feel you've been fleeced. From our experience, definitely buy it over the equivalent Lumie.
I know what you're thinking... 'Coloured Sunrise Simulation Wake-up Light? Sounds a bit much'. You need not be skeptical, because in the time that I've been using these products, my mornings have never been so happy. Why oh why couldn't I have had one of these when I was at school.
How does it all work? It's entirely straightforward - this is a device that is designed to produce an artificial sunrise in your very own bedroom, and will therefore wake you up in the most natural way possible (apart from a bad hangover). No 'buzzing', no BRING-BRING, just light.
As soon as you take the product out of its box, it immediately recalls design cues from the 1998 Apple iMac, what with its 'dome' shape, transparent rear casing and vents hidden towards the back. This won't strike you as being a typical bedside clock, and given its large size I would just like to point out that the incredible ergonomics of this device may overwhelm anything else that is on your table. My previous Lumie sunrise clock now looks tiny in comparison.
Does the extra size return any favours for Philips' offering? This has to be a resounding yes, because the light fills the room easier and this means that you can set the intensity to a lower setting. I've also benefited from the larger clock display itself, the space to have a multitude of buttons (each with their own dedicated function, so you don't need to remember combinations) and perhaps best of all, the buttons on the front-face of the device are touch-sensitive, meaning it's silent to press them. The factory setting does include a 'beep' feedback, but you can turn this off.
The quality of the finish is also outstanding, and I haven't come to accept anything less from Philips to be perfectly honest. Each component of the outer casing/enclosure is made from a high quality plastic, and the lighting from clock is beautifully soft. I doubt sound quality was top of their list in this product, but the radio and wake-up effects still project clear dynamics.
This leads on to an interesting USP; you can have a sound recording accompany your sunrise. You've set your alarm time (you get 2 presets - one for week days, one for weekends), the sunrise time (how long it takes for the light to reach its maximum brightness) and volume level for the audio... then you can go on an pick from one of five different built-in sound effects to follow up from your sunrise. These include bird calls, a zen garden, woodland atmosphere, piano/new age sounds and the seaside. Are they actually any good? Well, that all depends on where you live for a start...
The only drawback here is that you can't preview the volume of the sound effects, so it's a process of trial and error this time round. You also have the option to wake up to the built-in FM radio, or of course, you can just listen to it at any point.
Like other sunrise alarm clocks, the main lamp itself can be used on its own without the alarm, which is handy if you just want to use the product as a 'bedside light' per sé. But to extend on this functionality, you can allow the lamp to gradually dim like a sunset too, so if you don't fancy just plunging into the depths of darkness, the device will slowly make the room go dark. Surprisingly, it's a very effective feature.
Compared to the Lumie products, Philips' offering is also far, far easier to use - largely because of the aforementioned controls. Each function has a dedicated button, so once you've learnt to navigate the device, it's much more instinctive to use. Like many Philips products however, the only thing missing is an instruction manual that actually 'is' instinctive, and doesn't require some deciphering. I can understand the need for hundreds of languages (and thank god, English is at the front), but the images and annotations can sometimes be... well, cryptic. Just as well the product's easy to use!
Since I had already owned a sunrise alarm clock for about a year, I had a good deal of knowledge for how to get the most from the concept and what works best for my own body clock. And while the HF3520 is packaged with a better design and more features, the actual wake-up is unsurprisingly similar to my Lumie, although I'll admit that the change in lighting hue was a nice addition. If I was to lean in favour of this product, it would be that the light does a better job of spreading around your space and therefore appearing more natural, whereas the Lumie felt somewhat constricted to wherever it sat. Philips seem to have done a better job of using plastic and film technologies to give the light a different 'glow'; one that is far more satisfying, no matter how simple it is to wake some one up.
All round, the HF3520 just seems like a more refined, purposeful product than others on the market, and although you'll be paying a bit more in return, the value is easily present. This is just a wonderful product from a company that understands the importance of simple concepts.
on 17 October 2012
I think for the price £110 at time of purchase, It is rather expensive. I mean Ultimately It is an alarm clock with a light bulb and very basic radio.
HOWEVER, If it was say, 70 pounds then that would be much more reasonable.
Saying that though, despite the price. It is almost perfect if it had a few things:
dim lit control buttons so you can see in the dark..
a better radio, maybe DAB and with a store function would be handy!
and lastly, a remote control would make this perfect. (Some of us don't have bedside cabinets!!) :(
Additionally I would like to say that the feature where it lights up when the room gets brighter is pretty cool, and the dusk simulation makes me feel like a baby again haha. very cosy light.
But I would definitely recommend this item if you have sleep issues or hate waking up in an alarmed manner (literally). Probably worth waiting for a price reduction however, and definitely opt for coloured sunrise model* !
Hope this has helped.
on 29 May 2013
I wake up without headaches before the noise alarm starts - it does not make me energised in the mornings but I think Ill need more than a fancy alarm clock for that.
Easy to program and easy to read display
There are plenty of long reviews for those who want the product described to you. As mentioned in another review I think the red light option is better than without, not that I have seen without, but you get a wider range of colour hues before the bright light really kicks in.
Put simply - this product is a must have.
on 10 November 2012
Cracking little gadget that makes waking up less painful and almost a joy.
Using this I am no longer taked from fast asleep to fully awake in a nano second, but rather eased into the day (or night) with the combination of gentle light and relaxing sounds or the radio.
Looking like a TV without a surround, this alarm clock is unlike anything I have used before. Firstly, it looks more like a bedside light than an alarm, and instead of a loud ringing, buzzing or other such noise,you wake to birdsong, a piano or the sound of the seashore. As the alarm sounds, so the light turns on and slowly brightens to illuminate your and the room without burning your retinas off. You can even set the FM radio to be the alarm so you can wake to some banging tunes on Radio 1 or Vanessa Feltz on Radio 2. The choice is yours. If you need a little help drifting off, there is a reverse function where the light dims and the sounds/radio fade away. The display dims and brightens depending on the ambiant light.
OK, that's the good so now the things Philips should look at. Firstly, it's mains powered with only an internal battery to keep it working in the event of a power cut. In tests, this lasts no more than 10 minutes so if you live in an area that suffers power cuts on a regular basis, make sure you have a back-up alarm. There needs to be something like a PP3 battery to keep it running just in case. Also, when it comes back, all previous settings are lost. As other reviews have mentioned, the buttons are a bit fiddily and an IR remote would help a lot.
Personally, I have noticed that since using this I am much less tired in the mornings and don't feel the urge to nod off again. Yes, £110 is not cheap, but what price for "five more minutes".
on 10 December 2013
I had a Lumie, and this Philips version hasn't yet once woken me up before the alarm goes off (at full 20 brightness) I would advise putting it at head height or above and as close to you as possible.
The buttons at the side are stupidly placed - you can't see them with a light right in your face, and often you press the wrong one.
Setting it up though is much better than the Lumie. Almost no manual needed at all.
It isn't the stablest of things, it can easily tip over if brushed past - it has a high centre of gravity so be careful if it is up high.
As for the different colours - it's a gimmick and you wont notice these as you will be fast asleep. I only bought this version because it has two alarm slots.
I don't like when manufacturers shut out simple features to anything but the "premium" model. It's a con. No reason two alarms slots couldn't be offered to the cheaper models.
A quality product, but i feel it falls down is certain pretty key aspects, and can be annoying. No auto shut off function means you need to manually turn off the light and then the radio.
on 26 October 2012
We use this Wake-Up light 3 weeks. Design is superb. The oval shape is more beautifull than the shape of the previous versions. This design fits in classic and modern interiors.
Very easy in use. The manual is not needed to use, very intuitive use.
Use of two different alarm times is possible. These alarms are each separate configurable: time, light intensity, sound. You can also dis/enable them separately. For example in the weekend you can use high light intensity and in the week a lower and other time.
Configuration: everything is configurable: light intensity, sound, lightintensity of the clock numbers.
Functions: Wakeup sound can be 5 different naturesounds. I like the birds most. But you can also use FM digital radio. Also there is a sundown program to go to sleep. We use the light as bed light. You can configure the lightintensity here also. From romantic glow to light to read.
We are very happy with the light but found some disadvantages:
Little buttons: they are very little. In the morning to disable the alarm you have to be really awake to find the little button. The button to enable the bedlight is also very difficult to control.
Waking up with sunlight: this system is very nice and relaxing, but it is not useful when your partner has to wake up later. Eg. my wife during the week sleeps one hour longer. When I use the sunrise normal intensity, she is wakened by the light. I have to lower the intensity to almost zero not wakening her up. You don't have the advantage anymore of the sunrise. You only can use the sunrise function if you both have the same time to wake up. In the weekend we use it like this and this is very good.
Light Clock numbers: I experience the light of the clock numbers to be a bit to high intensity. I have configured it with the lowest intensity but it still shines on my eyes. This is not a real big problem but if you are sensitive to light you should keep this in mind.
Conclusion: I think the advantages are more than the disadvantages, we are very happy with the product.
on 21 November 2013
During the winter this is amazing. It almost always wakes me up naturally with the light a good 10 minutes before the actual alarm goes off. The sunset setting is also really useful. The only negative point is that you can't set the alarm just for weekdays which is very annoying because 'who wants to be woken up at 6am on the weekend' (which of course is my fault for not turning it off but when you are paying nearly £100 for an alarm clock you would have thought this is a basic feature).
I would buy again.
on 12 February 2015
I bought this alarm clock mainly for the sunrise/sunset light feature, as I really struggle through the dark winter months. Lots of people had suggested SAD lamps, etc., and I was fairly sceptical, but I think this has genuinely helped improve my sleep & mood, and certainly made it easier to get out of bed in the mornings.
HOWEVER, there are some pretty major, and utterly incomprehensible flaws/limitations:
* No beep/alarm tone: I was kind of looking forward to waking up gradually to nature sounds/music, but I had assumed that, after however-many minutes of build-up, there would be an actual, 'yes, it's really time to get up now' alarm tone. But that doesn't seem to be the case, and so I still have to use my standard alarm clock (set for 5 minutes after this 'alarm') in addition to this clock. (I'm quite a deep sleeper, so unfortunately I've had to switch it over to the radio, as the nature sounds weren't even registering-- but that's really a Me problem.) While there may be people who prefer a non-alarming alarm, it seems like it would have been pretty trivial for them to add the option of an alarm tone.
* No USB input: I'd much rather wake up to my own music playlist, but there's no way to play mp3s (Seriously? In 2015?). This seems like a really stupid thing not to have included, especially when you can get mp3-capable alarm clocks for 1/10th the price of this one!
* Awkward settings controls: The time/programme controls are located just below the display, and are *very* touch-sensitive, so the slightest brush can activate the settings mode/menu. When that's active, the sound/alarm program gets paused, so be very careful in where you place this rather large clock; if you happen to brush the controls with the edge of your pillow, etc., you could wake up hours late, with the thing sat there flashing at you, waiting to be re-programmed.
* Odd lack of programme flexibility: The programme settings seem very poorly thought out. For example, you can set the max volume/brightness level for the 'sunrise'/alarm (i.e., how loud/bright you want it to be at the final alarm time), but not the duration of the programme (i.e., length of the build-up). On the other hand, you *can* set the duration and starting brightness of the 'sunset'/sleep mode, but not the volume, because there's no sleep mode for the radio/nature sounds at all; you can have the light dim & turn itself off, but not the audio. (Again, a feature that can be found on most any £10 model.) Why not? I suppose I could leave the nature sounds going all night, and sleep right through them--- except no, I can't, because there's actually no way to just set them going on their own, just to listen to them. They're only available as part of the alarm programme.They've obviously got the technology-- if it works one way, it'll work the other-- so why not apply it as broadly as possible?
Overall, I really expected better, particularly given the price tag. I've kept the product because it's fulfilling the main purpose for which I bought it, because I can't be bothered with return postage, and because I paid for it with a gift card. If I'd purchased it locally, or had spent my own money on it, I'd have exchanged it for a SAD lamp and a basic USB clock radio, and saved myself £75.
on 17 November 2012
Having enough waking up with a brutal and stressful alarm clock, I decided to start the "quest" for the perfect alarm clock.
For me the perfect alarm clock has to wake you up gently but also offering a nice design.
Philips HF3520 with all conditions are met and more ...
This device is an evolution of existing equipment. Previously, the design put me off but it is clear that this time the design is very successful: round shape close to the sun, good finish, it looks robust and can take pride of place on the bedside table.
The main functionality of this product is to provide a soft and natural wake up with its light therapy principles : the sunrise simulator allows to gradually increase the light, 30 minutes before the alarm time. This principle is scientifically proven to better prepare body to wake up. At the alarm time, the painful and classic alarm clock classic ring is replaced by a "natural" ring (birdsong, sounds of the forest, the water, zen music ...). The sound gradually rises and the wake up becomes very pleasant, it is not worth rushing to turn off the ringer ;)
Note that it is possible to set two different alarms.
This device also offers a sunset simulation, which brings you a warm atmosphere, conducive to sleep.
The best improvement with this new wakeup light version, is the RedShift that enables a wider range of color than previously, from the deep red, to orange soft, finishing with bright yellow.
Usually digital alarm clock displays can disrupt sleep. With this device, the intensity of the display automatically adjusts to ambient light, it's really great.
FM radio, is good quality, but is not according to me the main attraction of the product ...
The adjustment is easy with a front "touch" interface and buttons located on device sides.
Finally this device replaces a bedside lamp and allows you good reading conditions at night or curtains closed.
The lamp is an LED, so energy low consuming and long life.
It's been almost a month since I use this product and could not go back to classic device.
What more to say except that Philips offers us again a very nice product!