* Prices may differ from that shown
The Paladone Pac Man alarm clock was one of those bargains which I spotted when browsing Amazon last year looking for stocking fillers. At a price of £5 (current selling price is a hefty £15) it looked like the type of fun gadget which would both raise a smile when it was opened and be useful throughout the year.
The alarm clock stands around 5 inches or so high and features a bright yellow spherical Pac Man with his mouth open sitting atop a black square base. It is very cute, the type of object which will happily brighten up a kid's bedroom. The plastic construction feels cheap and light so it is not the type of clock which will withstand many bumps.
The time is told on a tiny LCD screen inside Pac Man's mouth which is not the easiest to read, especially in a dark bedroom although on the other hand there is no annoying glare from lit numbers which can be annoying in a darkened room. The clock and alarm are easy to set using the easily accessible buttons on the front of the unit.
The alarm is really loud; it plays the Pac Man music and then beeps repeatedly like the noise of the Pac Man ghosts. It does not always wake my daughter up but certainly had me running to her bedroom as it woke me and I would shout at her to get it turned off! There is also a snooze function for those who want an extra few minutes of shut eye before forcing themselves out of bed.
The alarm clock runs on batteries only so no mains lead trailing across the room, the battery life is excellent and in the few months the clock worked the batteries never needed changing once.
The alarm clock is fun but never lasted for very long. After 10 months or so the alarm stopped working completely, since the rest of the clock worked fine I think it was some kind of wire that came loose. Obviously an alarm clock which no longer has an alarm function is totally useless so Pac Man went in the bin, the clock not being good enough to keep the unit for.
As a fiver stocking filler this was a reasonable buy despite the fact it only lasted a few months but I certainly wouldn't pay any more than that for a gadget with a limited life span.
Paladone Pac-Man Alarm Clock
I think it's fair to say that I am not a morning person. I loathe the sound of my alarm clock waking me from my slumber at some ungodly hour with its smarmy and overly enthusiastic bleeping. Just five more minutes I would cry, sometimes even hitting the snooze button repeatedly for the best part of half an hour without any consciousness as to my doing so; an unwanted skill that has had some negative repercussions in the past!
Finally, I grew fed up with seeing the same alarm clock and hearing the same incessant beeping every morning that I decided to hunt for a new alarm clock. I thought maybe a more attractive alarm clock and a change of sound would help me recognise and tolerate when morning had indeed arrived. I wasn't particularly searching for a novelty clock but I hadn't been looking long before I found this Pac-Man Alarm Clock and found it impossible to resist.
The first thing that attracted me was the theme. I've grown up with Pac-Man the video game and the thought of waking up to the cherished childhood bright yellow character rather than an aesthetically repulsive silver block was very appealing. Finding out that the alarm clock also had a realistic Pac-Man wake-up call further cemented my decision to buy.
== Packaging ==
Ordinarily I wouldn't waste words describing the packaging of such an item but the box Pac-Man comes in has a great retro feel to it so I thought I must say something. The cardboard/plastic hybrid box is mostly adorned by a light blue maze pattern reminiscent of the original Pac-Man games and also features various Pac-Man related pictures including a red ghost, a blue ghost, those infamous dots and pictures of Pac-Man himself. To highlight my delight with the neatness of the box, I have even kept it for future reference - what reference that is exactly is hard to say at this point in time but I'm sure it will come in useful ;)
== First Impressions ==
When removing Pac-Man from the box I was actually quite excited. Like a child at Christmas, all around me was forgotten as my undivided attention was focused on this one thing.
The first thing I noticed was that the alarm clock is actually surprisingly light. It's not exactly the smallest clock in the word measuring 12 x 9 x 9.5 cm (H/W/D) so the lack of weight was a bit worrying. The plastic that the clock is made from does feel a bit cheap and this may explain the lightness of the item but it doesn't detract from what is an otherwise well assembled and highly amusing product.
The clock itself is situated in Pac-Man's gaping black jaw and his bright yellow head (body?) is planted on a plinth like black base. The base contains all the operating buttons which I will mention very shortly. The overall design is very simple indeed. Pac-Man is a character that doesn't require too much detail but the detail there is is spot on. His black eyes contrast well with the vibrant yellow plastic of his head/body. I don't think I've ever seen Pac-Man in 3D before but this is exactly how I would imagine him to be. He is very authentic looking which is unsurprising considering that the alarm clock is fully licenced by Namco, the game's creators.
My joy did suffer a momentary blip as I realised that the 2 AAA batteries required for operation were not included (!) To add to my disgust, I was also required to source my star-headed screwdriver to gain access to the empty battery compartment. However, after a short hunt around the house which ultimately resulted in me pilfering the batteries from an unguarded remote control, I was back in happy mode.
== The Clock ==
The clock face is as simple as possible. It is thankfully a 24 hr. clock, which for me was a must to avoid any alarm setting mishaps. There are no seconds, only the hour and minute with a flashing colon separating the two to indicate each passing second. The numbers themselves are large and clear even without pressing the backlight and I find the time very easy to see from a reasonable distance away and from various angles in daylight and low-light conditions.
My former alarm clock included seconds, a temperature gauge, the day/date and even a moon phase feature. I did think I would miss at least some of these features but I can't say I have actually done so. I only really need to see the time from my alarm clock and so the lack of additional features is fine by me. If you do like more than just the hour and minute though then you may not appreciate the simplicity as must as I do.
== Buttons: Setting the time/alarm ==
The button setup on the alarm clock is refreshingly simple and was a great relief to me because I dislike anything overly complicated or taxing (especially considering that the times I would be using the alarm clock would be the last thing on a night and the first thing on a morning - two times when I'm not renowned for my Mensa capabilities). There is a brief instruction manual, or sheet of paper, which specifies how to set and use the alarm clock but it is exceptionally straightforward to figure out on your own as all the buttons are clearly marked with their function.
On the front of the black base are three buttons, which delightfully each have their own Pac-Man themed sticker. On the far left is the all-important snooze button marked by a cherries symbol, followed by the 'alarm off' button marked by a sticker of a bell and finally on the right hand side is a backlight button symbolised by a pink ghost (known as Pinky - or Speedy - in the Pac-Man games).
On the reverse of Pac-Man's plinth are the necessary buttons to set the time and alarm. No frills here I'm afraid, just your boring bog-standard black buttons. However, they are clearly labelled as the time set, alarm set, hour and minute buttons with easy to read white lettering. To set either the time or date you simply hold in the appropriate button whilst pressing the hour and minute buttons to set the time which appears on the clock face at the front. Unfortunately there are no forward and back buttons, only a simple increment scroll which I do find slightly annoying when I press one time too many and have to cycle back through the hours/minutes to get the right time.
The backlight is nothing special but is effective at lighting up the clock in a green glow when it's dark. The light will stay on for a few seconds after each press of the 'Pinky' button.
Completing the list of buttons is an alarm on/off switch on the right hand side which is used to activate or deactivate the current alarm time. There is an easily noticeable symbol that appears on the top left of the clock face informing you when the alarm is active.
As previously stated, I am a big fan of the simplicity of the buttons. The themed stickers on the front are a very neat addition and improve the overall novelty and quality of the alarm. I find setting the time and alarm very easy and the alarm clock is a decent size and shape to hold whilst operating.
== The Alarm/Snooze function ==
Now for the important part - the alarm and even more importantly, the snooze function. Instead of waking up to a boring beeping, with the Pac-Man alarm clock you wake up to a very loud and authentic Pac-Man noise. The noise is that which plays at the start of a round of Pac-Man in the original video game - the familiar jingle followed by the wakka wakka wakka sound of Pac-Man gobbling up the dots (which continues indefinitely until action is taken).
An important thing to stress here is that this sound is the official Namco Pac-Man sound and not some cheap and unsatisfactory impersonation. The authentic wake-up sound makes this alarm for me and without this I would have been greatly disappointment.
The volume, which is unadjustable, is exceptionally loud. There is no danger of it not waking you up and no matter how many times I have heard the sound on a morning, it still awakens me with a nervous jump. It's difficult to describe a level of noise without a decibel meter but it is so loud that it not only wakes me up, but also wakes everyone else up in the house too. So it is fair to say that it probably isn't suitable as an alarm if you are getting up very early before everyone else! I haven't asked the neighbours but I wouldn't be too surprised if they have heard it through the walls on a morning too.
I however, like the loudness of the alarm as it does its job well in waking me from my slumber. More importantly though, I wake up with a feeling of amusement at both the sound and that it has once again scared the bejesus out of me. I much prefer waking up to Pac-Man than the generic beeping of some standard alarm clock.
The snooze button though can be a bit fiddly to press simply because I find I need to hold the clock in my hand as I press it to stop it sliding backwards. My old alarm clock had a push down snooze button which I could simply bang my hand on in the morning with zero dexterity required. I actually appreciate this difficulty though as it means I am less likely to 'snooze off' again without fully waking up. I also like the fact that the granted snooze time is 10 minutes and not a paltry 5 minutes like my former alarm.
== Price/Availability ==
I purchased my alarm clock from amazon.co.uk where it is still most cheaply priced at £11.57 direct from amazon (with free delivery). I think this is very good value for an official novelty alarm clock and I would have been happy to pay in the region of £18-20 for this product.
== Summary and Recommendation ==
Overall I am really pleased with this alarm clock. I love the novelty design because it is very realistic and takes me back to my childhood of playing the Pac-Man games. The themed stickers on the front buttons are a nice touch and add to the amusement of using the alarm and it is incredibly simple to use without been overly simplistic. I find the loud and authentic wake up sound very effective and fun which almost makes mornings bearable. Almost!
This alarm clock will definitely appeal to fans of the Pac-Man games and would therefore make a great gift if you know someone who fits this description. I can definitely recommend the Pac-Man Alarm Clock and after many mornings waking up to this retro chap I am still thoroughly pleased with my purchase. It does everything I need an alarm to do and it makes mornings a bit more tolerable...after the initial blind panic at the loud noise!
Thanks for reading :)
The iconic yellow Pac-man, sitting on a black plinth, digital clock in its 'melon slice' mouth ... who could resist?
My son has been hankering after an alarm clock for a while in order to be able to get up a bit earlier to play computer games before breakfast, so it was a delicious irony when I spotted this. I had no idea Pac-man was enjoying such a resurgence, but there appear to be Pac-man products everywhere at the moment, so it's clearly another trend which was about to pass me by.
Actually, said son does own a perfectly serviceable Dennis the Menace alarm clock, but I had been finding this inexplicably moved out of his room or put in a cupboard ... then he admitted the ticking noise was bothering him at night. Hamster scurrying round his cage doesn't disturb him, ticking clock does - can't fathom that one, but never mind! Anyway, what I'm getting at is that it was rather important to me to find a non-ticking clock, and this one is just that. Silent as the grave ... until it goes off, when it's enough to wake the dead!
If you're familiar with Pac-man sounds, you will understand the noise it makes. If not, I can't really describe very well, but it's a cacophony of ear-splitting electronic NOISE. Proper authentic game sounds. And he LOVES it! Me, I prefer to be coaxed out of sleep with a gentle alarm which gets steadily more persistent if you ignore it. This one hits you with the full force of its repertoire and scares the living daylights out of me even in the next room.
It's definitely serving its purpose in waking him up and getting him out of bed, very useful on school days. I suspect that as he approaches teenage years I may be even more glad of that!
So, what of the clock apart from the infernal racket it makes?
Well, the other thing we were after was a digital display - he can tell the time on an analogue clock when he concentrates, but finds digital much easier. This clock has a large digital display - the numbers are about an inch tall. One thing I would say here though is that because the clock is inside the 'mouth', you need to position it carefully so you can see it. If it's about on your eye level it's best, otherwise the overhang can block some of the display.
The clock is plastic - it feels quite sturdy although it is also very light. It takes two AAA batteries.
The controls I think are very intelligently designed. Maybe it's just me, but I find with many alarm clocks it's quite tricky to find the right button to turn them off when you're not properly awake. With this one, there are three distinct sets of controls.
On the side is a simple on/off switch. This turns the alarm on or off completely.
On the front are three Pac-man themed buttons. These have little stickers on (or that's what they look like anyway - haven't tried piddling them off to check!). The left one is cherries - this is the snooze button and can also be used to hear the alarm at any time (hopefully the novelty of this will wear off SOON). The middle one is a bell to turn the alarm off when it's blaring. The right one is a pink ghost and is the backlight button.
Then on the back are four buttons to set the clock and the alarm. Nice and simple, self-explanatory.
I really like the fact that all the controls are separate - it means there's no danger of accidentally resetting the time when you're searching for the snooze button whicle simultaneously trying to keep both hands over your ears!
This clock is fairly widely available. I saw it first at Comet, selling for the RRP of around £15. Sure there was a better deal to be had, I restrained myself and looked around. I managed to pick one up in the sale at firebox.com for £8.99 which I was well chuffed with, but I think it's available at Amazon and the other usual suspects for somewhere in the region of a tenner.
I may have mentioned that it's quite loud, but actually I think it's a great little clock. I wouldn't choose it to wake me up, but for my son it's perfect. Definitely worth five stars on that basis.