Honorable Mentions: Sunrise Alarm Clocks and Lights
Sunrise alarm clocks are fairly new light therapy tools that are still finding their footing. There were a few additional products that try some new tricks, but fell too short of the mark for us to recommend them.
Sleepace Nox and Nox Music
We tried out both of Sleepace's sleep lights, since they have competing features. The Nox has a clock display, connects via WiFi, and provides information about your bedroom's air quality. The Nox Music is clockless, connects via Bluetooth, and also works as a speaker. They both have a USB port to help you charge phone, which is a great feature in something that's taking away an outlet near your bed.
We were initially more interested in the Nox Music because we thought users could wake up to their own music via the Bluetooth connection. In our tests, we could not use our own music and were stuck with the app's presets. We also found that the sunrise duration was only two minutes long. To make matters worse, the light turned off eight minutes after the alarms started. This short sunrise period means that, depending on your light sensitivity, you could either sleep through the alarm or wake up too suddenly.
The name gives it away: Sleepace is more concerned with your sleep. In lieu of using their sleep sensor, your phone acts as a movement sensor and provides a detailed sleep report when you wake up.
They bank on you using their Smart Wake-up feature that uses that data to start the alarm during your lightest sleep. By trying to lock you into their ecosystem, the functionality of their individual products are stunted.
This new wake-up light from Philips has a couple of things on our wish list: an auxiliary port for customizable alarm music and a USB port for device charging. Since it's so new, we can't speak to its durability, plus it seems to have some of the ailments of Philips' other sunrise alarm clocks.
The speakers underperform when using them for anything other than soundscapes, it's not easy to use, and there's still no internal battery. Oh yeah, it's also nearly $200. For that price tag, we expected a better product, so we don't feel comfortable recommending it just yet.
LIFX A19 WiFi Smart Bulb
Personally, the LIFX A19 bulb won me over. LIFX offers a better app and more smart connectivity options, but the customer service is lackluster. On top of that, the durability of the hardware seems far less reliable than Flux's and the bulb's shape makes it impossible to use in many lamps. The setup process was arduous at best, but since I've gotten it up and running, I've enjoyed the overall experience.
There are two ways to set a sunrise or sunset alarm in the LIFX app. You can use their "Day & Dusk" tab in the app that lets you set times for "Wake up," "Day," "Evening," and "Night Light." Each option can be deselected if you only want Wake up and Night Light.
Though this tab looks great, the only thing you can really change is the time. The colors are from their white light selection, starting at a cool, bluish white that changes into a neutral white and then warmer, yellow-orange tones in the evening.
On the "My Home" page, you can press the plus icon to add a "schedule." Here you can choose from a small, but comprehensive selection of colors, the peak brightness, and the fade duration (up to 60 minutes). The time you choose is when the fade on or off begins. This feature is pretty hit or miss, so my alarm runs through a premade IFTTT applet.
Gentle Wakeup App (Android)
If you're still not sure where to start or just want to see if a sunrise alarm clock might work for you, try out the Gentle Wakeup App. This alarm clock app is only available on Android. Though many users have found success using the app on their phone, we recommend testing it with a tablet so you get more light. You'll get to experience the general functions of a wake-up light and figure out which features are more important to you.