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Oregon Scientific RM 313 P Clock Radio

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1 Review

Type: Clocks

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      19.11.2006 09:50
      Very helpful
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      8 Comments

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      A fun little gadget that does its job well.

      Of all the things I expected when I upgraded my mobile phone, the need to buy a new alarm clock wasn’t among them. Unfortunately, for all the things my new phone does bigger and better than the old one, the alarm on the Nokia was far better than the one on the Sony Ericsson. I’ll never know whether I slept through the alarm or inadvertently turned it off when I was trying to set it, but within a few days of having changed my mobile phone, the new one failed to wake me up, which was something the alarm on the old one never did.

      I decided on the Oregon Scientific projection alarm clock largely because my flatmate had one and it looked pretty funky with the time displayed on the bedroom ceiling. I’m not normally one for fancy gadgets, but that did seem like a pretty cool feature. In addition, she sleeps quite deeply, as do I, and the alarm had never failed to wake her.

      It has to be said that the design of the Oregon RM 313 is a case of substance winning over style. It’s certainly not the best looking alarm clock around, being quite squat and bulbous and with a curved screen design that is in keeping with the rest of the clock but really adds nothing aesthetically. It may be that the versions available in other colours than the silver one I have are more attractive, but as the whole point of having an alarm clock for when you’re sleeping, maybe that doesn’t matter too much anyway.

      The build quality isn’t the best, either. It’s made of hard plastic and doesn’t give me any faith that should I knock it off my beside table first thing in the morning whilst trying to turn it off that I’ll be able to pick it up in one piece. Some of the sections, particularly around the base, don’t look as if they fit together entirely perfectly and seem to provide a weak point to focus my concerns about it breaking on.

      I’m not a big fan of the buttons, either. They’re cheap and rubbery and there’s an annoying little “beep” every time you press any one of them. This isn’t too bad if all you’re doing is turning the alarm on or off, but if you’re setting it forward half an hour or so and get that beep 30 times, it does get really annoying really quickly. The battery flap is another minor annoyance, as it doesn’t slide across easily; being quite stiff and I’ve found that I need to get my nails in behind it to prise it open. Fortunately, however, the clock is also mains powered, so this isn’t necessarily something you’ll need to do often, but for those with hand problems, this is going to be really difficult to open when required.

      Setting the alarm is a little trickier than it maybe needs to be as well. You have to hold the button down for several seconds to get to the alarm mode, and then do the same again to change the time. On the plus side, should you just need to turn the alarm on without needing to change the time it has been set to, say on a Sunday night ready for Monday morning, this can be swiftly accomplished with the press of a single button.

      Despite the design and the build, however, this is an alarm that does the important things well. Setting the time is no problem at all, as it’s a radio controlled time. As soon as you plug it in or put the batteries in, the clock starts looking for a signal. After a few minutes, this will set the time for you and, unless the mains power goes out for long enough to drain the batteries, it will always keep time. Thanks to the radio signal, there is no need to adjust the clock for daylight savings time, as the clock does it all for you. This is especially handy if you have to be up on the Sunday morning after the clocks have changed, as you don’t need to worry about resetting clocks and accounting for the time change, just set your alarm as usual.

      The alarm itself is a great thing. It doesn’t try to do anything fancy, merely gives off a high pitched beep that annoys you into waking up. If that doesn’t work, after 8 seconds it will switch to a double beep and after a further 16 seconds, to a quadruple beep that should be enough to test even the deepest sleeper. If not, after sounding for a minute, it increases in volume for another minute. I certainly don’t remember having an alarm before that went off for more than a minute, so this should wake anyone up. I always considered myself a deep sleeper, but I’ve never lasted any longer than 30 seconds before this alarm has woken me up. Unfortunately, hitting the snooze button, which is a large button on the top of the clock, is a lot easier than hitting the alarm off button, which is one of the rubbery buttons on the front of the clock and, if that’s the button you press, 8 minutes later it sounds again.

      The really cool function is the projection function. This clock will project a red LED type display onto walls or ceilings depending on where the clock is pointed. For someone who is extremely short sighted as I am, this is an invaluable function, as the projected time on the ceiling is large enough for even me to read without my glasses on. Projecting the time onto a wall isn’t as good, as it gives the numbers an elongated look, which isn’t as easy to read.

      This function can either be turned on permanently, which is the method my flatmate prefers, or can be easily turned on for 8 seconds by pressing the large snooze button at the top of the clock. As I’m not going to need to know the time when I’m asleep and because the alarm going off activates the projector so you can see the time on the ceiling once it’s woken you, I tend to use this method to save power. Incidentally, the permanently on projection only works if you are running the clock from the mains power, not from the batteries.

      Apart from those mentioned above, there are a couple of gripes I have with the clock. The first is that the projection will only tell you the time. You can’t see any of the other options such as the date or check the alarm time by this method, so if you’ve forgotten to set the alarm, or can’t remember if you’ve set it properly, you do need to get up, turn the light back on and, where necessary, find your glasses to do this, which can be a bit inconvenient. Also, there is no option to set the time to the 24 hour clock, which is my preferred method for telling the time, but as I usually get up well before midday, this isn’t too much of a hardship, as the time would be the same under either clock.

      Perhaps a little embarrassingly, this model is marketed as the “Kids Projection Clock”, with the adult version being £10 more expensive and a little bit fancier in design. It’s aimed at children from 6 years old upwards, which I think is perhaps a little young to have an alarm clock, even one that has projected times and makes lots of beeping noises. I suspect, however, that someone 20 or more years younger than I am may enjoy the clock even more than I do, and wouldn’t worry too much about the details.

      However it might be aimed at, this alarm clock has not let me down in all the time I’ve owned it. Nothing has broken and it has not once failed to wake me up on demand, which is what I bought it for in the first place. You do pay a little extra for the funky little details, like the projected time and the radio controlled time, but at £14.99 from Argos, it’s not massively expensive and for something that does all you need it to in the long term, it’s not too high a price to pay.

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    • Product Details

      Short name: Oregon Scientific RM 313 P