Philips HF3520 Wake-up Light Review
Philips continues to lead the charge with its suite of wake-up lights and the HF3520 is still the best in the class. Though it's imperfect, you get the the most features and customization options in an effective sunrise alarm clock.
How Does It Work?
Since there are so many features in this alarm clock, let's focus on the buttons. The front of the light is essentially a touchscreen. It displays the main "buttons" you'll need for setting the time, alarms, and soundscapes: menu, select, a plus sign, and a minus sign. You can also touch the entire display face to activate the snooze function.
The physical buttons are small and spaced out along the top rim. There are two "alarm profile" buttons that allow you to turn the alarms on and off. You can also make any last-minute adjustments to the alarm time. When you set your alarms, that time is when the sunrise simulation will reach peak brightness.
A sun button turns the lamp on and off while an FM button turns on the FM radio. Both of the previous buttons are in the middle of two buttons that let you control the brightness and volume, respectively. The plus and minus signs on the display act as the FM tuner. Finally, there's a button with sleepy face on it which activates the sunset feature and lets you choose how long the shut-off timer is.
This model offers realistic sun hues across the red, orange, and yellow spectrum. Both the sunrise and sunset (fall-asleep) feature transition in brightness and color. This addition of red to the sunrise simulation helps you fall asleep and wake up.
You customize the sunrise duration to take 20, 25, 30 (default), or 40 minutes. If you find that you need less or more time to wake up, you have some wiggle room.
You can exclusively use this as a light. This wake-up light isn't massive, but it is unusually shaped, so it's handy that it can replace your lamp. You can also set the light to a timer if you like to read before you sleep.
There are several sound alarm options. Five preset soundscapes can set the scene for falling asleep or waking up. The FM radio offers a classic alarm function for people who want a little music or talk radio in the morning. Whichever sound you choose, it will fade in once the clock reaches your desired brightness.
You can opt for a completely quiet alarm if you want to minimize the chances of waking someone else or if you're hard of hearing.
The internal memory will keep your alarm settings if the alarm clock loses power.
You can set two different alarms. This allows you to set a time for the weekdays and weekends.
What Could Be Better?
There's a learning curve to using this wake-up light. The directions have fairly easy to follow instructions and images, but being able to access the alarms from the top buttons and the display is confusing in practice.
Speaking of buttons, where are they? You either have to feel around the top to find them or use the buttons in front. Either experience is especially difficult when the light is on (re: when you wake up).
You have to set the alarm every night. In order to turn the alarm off, you press its corresponding alarm button. A popular user reported method to avoid turning the alarm back on each night is simply pressing the button twice.
Some users report poor speaker quality, but we found that the sound fidelity was adequate for the nature sounds and radio.
Warranty and Customer Support
We highly recommend registering your wake-up light with Philips. You'll be covered by their two-year warranty and 90-day money back guarantee. Customer support isn't always lightning fast, but they offer reasonable solutions with a pleasant demeanor.