Once upon a time, a locomotive train ran through my son’s bedroom and he didn’t wake up. Well, maybe not. But if a train ever did run through his room he wouldn’t wake up. Perhaps you have a family member who would fall into that category because they sleep so hard. We have tried a dozen different types of clocks, including those that speak to you to wake you up, in hopes of finding a clock that would actually wake him up every morning. Nothing has worked. He simply doesn’t hear them, yet it wakes the whole house up. So it was with great anticipation that I agreed to review the TCL 200 Digital Alarm Clock with Wireless Vibrating Pad from Amplicom because of a few key features that might, just might, be able to wake the sleeping giant. Did the Amplicom work? Did my son finally make it to school on time? Let’s find out!
Features and Hardware
Before I tell you the results of our tests, let me go over the features of the clock and show you some pictures. The clock comes with a power charger, a phone cord, a user guide (yes, can you believe it?), a wireless vibration pad (more on that soon) and a cable that connects from the vibration pad to the clock for charging. The clock also runs on batteries (door on the bottom of the clock) in the event that the power goes out.
It has a bunch of buttons on the front and even more on the back, and I honestly had to read the user guide to figure out some of the functions. I guess you could consider that a pro or a con, but it’s a pro for me because I like User Guides. For this clock you need to hold onto the manual because in 6 months when you need to figure out how to do something, you are gonna need it.
On the back is where most of the action is, so let’s talk about some of these buttons. At the bottom is where you plug in the power cord, the charging wire for the wireless vibration pad, and the phone cord. If you connect the clock to a phone jack in the wall then when the phone rings in the house the clock will act as an amplifier. This could be good, I suppose, for a person who was hard of hearing and needed to know when the phone was ringing. On the back you also get to adjust the dimmer setting, the snooze duration, the volume of the alarm, the pitch of the alarm, and which signal (out of 5) that you want for your alarm. The alarm signals range from just a constant beep to a series of beeps, to longer tones, etc. It really is a personal preference as to which one you choose. You also get to choose if you want the alarm to make a sound, just vibrate, or both. With one of the switches on the back you also get to decide if you want the display on the clock face to flash when the alarm goes off, to add to the probability that the person will get up. And a nice touch is that you can set 2 different alarms and each one can be set to go off every day of the week, just on the weekend, or just M-F.
On top is the snooze button and on the right side is a really big knob that turns the alarm off and on. One of my biggest gripes with alarm clocks in general is that the on-off buttons are small, and on most clocks the labels on the buttons are hard to read. Not so on this clock. That on-off knob on the side is not only clearly labeled, it is probably the biggest on-off switch I have ever seen.
On the front are indicator lights to tell you which of the 2 alarms are active and if the M-F setting is active. On the front you will also find the buttons for setting the time on the clock and setting the alarm settings that you prefer. Also, an interesting feature of the clock is that you can set the time to be announced in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
The 2 main reasons why I wanted to try this clock were the sound level and the vibration pad. The alarm volume on this clock can be adjusted up to 90 dB. How loud is that? Loud. I have read online that 90 dB is the equivalent of a police whistle, a lawnmower, a power drill, or a circular saw. Needless to say, this clock is loud. The vibration pad is round and semi-flat with a non-slip grip on top and bottom. The on-off switch is on the front and the battery indicator light is located right above the switch. It has an 800 mAh battery that is supposed to give you up to 80 hours of charge, and it charges by plugging it up to the back of the clock. The best way to use it is to slip it inside the pillow cover so that it doesn’t fall off the bed. If you have the clock set to include vibration in the alarm and you have the vibration pad turned on, then when the alarm goes off the vibration pad will start vibrating. The vibration is similar to the vibration on your cellphone, only much stronger.
So did my son make it to school on time? Oh yes. We had hoped that the vibration pad would do the trick to cause him to wake up. But the truth is that he didn’t need the pad to wake him up. This clock is so loud that it wakes him up without needing the vibration pad. We finally found a clock loud enough to rouse him from his slumber. Thank you Amplicom. And even though I consider the price of this clock to be a little high for an alarm clock, it is a no brainer. If you need to get someone up in the morning, look no further than the Amplicom TCL 200.