Want Alexa to wake you up? Try one of these gadgets
There are plenty of gadgets that'll let you tell Amazon's virtual voice assistant to wake you up each morning. We'll help you pick the best one for your bedside.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant Alexa is finding her way into more and more homes -- including the bedrooms of folks who've taken to using her as a voice-activated wake-up service. Maybe it's just the thrill of having an alarm that will actually respond when you grumble "shut the hell up" at it at 6 a.m., but voice-activated morning alarms have proven to be one of Alexa's most popular use cases.
Our first Alexa alarm clock option is an Amazon device that's built for that exact purpose: the Echo Spot. Coming this Christmas, the Spot is basically the love child of the pint-size Echo Dot (Amazon's cheapest Alexa gadget) and the touchscreen-and-camera-equipped Echo Show (Amazon's most expensive Alexa gadget). At $130, the Spot splits the difference between the two almost perfectly, offering full Alexa access plus a full-color touchscreen display that can show you the time, make video calls or stream media from sources like CNN.
Of course, you could also save a hundred bucks and just go with an Echo Dot. You'll have to ask Alexa what time it is, and there's no camera in the thing -- but then again, maybe you don't want a camera pointed at you while you sleep. Amazon has it marked down to just $30 through the end of the holiday buying season.
Another option: upgrading that Echo Dot by spending $50 on the iAVS1 from iHome. It's essentially a clock-shaped dock for the Echo Dot that gives it a clock face and better sound quality. Aside from a touch-sensitive button that adjusts the brightness, there are zero controls on the iAVS1 -- no volume buttons, no clock controls, not even a snooze bar. Instead, iHome lets Alexa control everything -- which means that you'll use the iAVS1 exactly like you already use your Echo Dot.
If you're willing to spend $150 -- $20 more than the Echo Spot costs -- then you could consider iHome's Alexa-enabled iAVS16. You don't need an Echo Dot to use it, because Alexa is already built in. Just say her name and ask her to set an alarm, then tell her to pipe down when she wakes you up in the morning. The clock suffers a bit from a cluttered display, a bulky design and an over-abundance of buttons, but it offers decent sound quality and enough features to make it feel like a legitimate bedside upgrade. If that price comes down a bit, it could be a worthwhile Echo Spot alternative.
It might look a little avant garde, but the Alexa-enabled Sol smart lamp from GE is another gadget that'll bring Amazon's voice assistant to your bedside. It's essentially a half-sized Amazon Echo with a big ring of light growing out of its head. That ring offers plenty of light to read under, and it also changes between warm, yellowy tones and cooler, whiter tones upon command. It also offers clever LED indicator lights that can tell you the time or countdown a nap timer. At $200, it's the most expensive option on this list, but we've already seen a couple of good sales this year that have left us tempted.
If you just want an Alexa speaker on your nightstand, but would prefer something with stronger sound than the Dot, then consider the Fabriq Chorus, a third-party Alexa speaker with a built-in battery that lets you pick it up off of its charging base and take it around the house with you. That's essentially the same pitch as the Amazon Tap, but the Chorus costs $30 less, making it a decent value pick. Bonus points for the variety of attractive designs.
If you like that battery-powered pitch but you've already got a Dot, then consider the Vaux speaker base by Ninety7. Just pop your Dot inside and you'll enjoy noticeably stronger sound quality and up to six hours of battery-powered portability. At $50, it's one of the best Echo Dot accessories we've tested.