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The life of a smart-home guinea pig can be a fortuitous one. Case in point: about a month after my trusty alarm clock stopped working, I saw a pitch for an app-enabled, Kickstarter-funded one in need of review.
It's called Beddi, and it's basically the smart-home Swiss Army Knife of alarm clocks. Aside from telling the time and waking you up in the morning, Beddi syncs with Spotify, works with both Apple HomeKit and the Nest Learning Thermostat, and comes with three programmable smart buttons that can control your lights, trigger your IFTTT recipes, or even hail an Uber. It also features color-changing LEDs, a built-in wake-up light, two USB ports for charging your devices, and the ability to track your morning commute or read off the day's weather forecast.
I took Beddi home, determined to discern whether or not those features were worth the relatively steep $99 asking price (about £75 in the UK, or roughly AU$130). Now, one week later, I'm giving serious consideration to buying the thing so I don't have to send it back. It isn't a must-have and it isn't perfect, but it's a deceptively cool little luxury, and an unexpected bright spot in the still-emerging smart home. It'd make an excellent gift for a groggy techie, or a justifiable splurge if, like me, you just really like the thing.
Beddi makes a good first impression. It's a simple, minimalist design that looks every bit the part of an alarm clock upgrade in both black and gray. Smarts aside, if I just wanted a bedside alarm clock that didn't look cheap, Beddi would be on my list.
Bring those smarts back into the equation and Beddi gets even more compelling. It syncs with your phone over Bluetooth, then lets you control everything on your Android or iOS device using an app that's jam-packed with features. Aside from setting an alarm or two, you can control the way Beddi actually wakes you up, with options for things like alarm volume, music integration, wake-up lighting, and even the amount of minutes that come between snooze button bashes. It's certainly superior to any alarm clock I've ever used.
But Beddi aspires to be more than just an alarm clock -- it wants to be your smart home's mastermind. Its secret weapon is a trio of programmable smart buttons on the top of the device. By default, the first two are set to toggle the rear-mounted wake-up light and the rainbow LEDs lining the bottom of the clock, respectively, but you can change both of them, as well as the third, to a whole host of additional magic functions. Here are just some of your options:
You can also assign functions to a long press or a double press of each button, giving you a total of nine potential smart triggers to activate right from your bedside.
This is where Beddi gets into a bit of trouble, though. See, those smart buttons are awesome when they work as promised, and infuriating when they don't. Sure enough, during my week of testing, there was more than one instance where an assigned function stopped working as expected, and I'd need to pull my phone out and set it up from scratch all over again.
Beddi's integration with HomeKit -- Apple's iOS-based smart home platform -- worked a lot more reliably. After turning it on in the CNET Smart Home, I was able to press one of Beddi's buttons to trigger a "Good Morning" scene that simultaneously unlocked an August smart lock while also turning on several Lutron smart lights, a pair of Philips Hue bulbs, and a lamp plugged into an iDevices Switch. All of it happened within about one second each and every time I pressed the button.
Here's the rub, though: that HomeKit integration will only work if you have the Beddi app running in the foreground on your iPhone. That's not quite as annoying as it sounds, given that you'll probably go to sleep with your phone plugged into Beddi each night -- it's an easy enough to make a habit of leaving the app running so that you can trigger a HomeKit scene in the morning. Still, it's far from ideal -- here's hoping for a fix in the near future.
All of that said, I'm beyond impressed by how many third-party products and services Beddi has managed to integrate with right out of the gate, and I'm hopeful that the people who made it can continue working out the kinks. And in the end, these were fairly low-stakes glitches we're talking about -- a Lifx or Hue bulb not turning on after a button press, for instance. None of them were annoying enough to sour me on Beddi outright.
I had a much smoother time testing out the clock's core functions. My alarms woke me up as promised, complete with a gradually intensifying wake-up light in the back of the device. It wasn't bright enough to wake me up on its own (and it certainly isn't bright enough to replace your bedside lamp, which feels like a missed opportunity), but it made it a little less jarring to throw the shades open and let some sunshine in after stepping out of bed.
I also liked that you can enter your morning commute into the Beddi app, then track the expected traffic and travel time at a glance. Nice to know that traffic's backed up before giving that snooze button a couple of extra hits.
You can also stream Spotify playlists through Beddi -- though, it's worth noting that you need to be a paid Spotify Premium subscriber in order for the integration to work. If you aren't, your only option is to stream audio from your phone, or turn on the clock's radio. That's fine, but adding support for a free cloud streaming option like Pandora would have been a nice touch.
You use your alarm clock every day, so spending a little more for one that you really like makes perfect sense. And, I think that there's an awful lot to like about Beddi. As alarm clock upgrades go, it looks the part, and also does an admirable job of offering cool features that you won't find elsewhere, including an impressive slate of smart home integrations.
At $99, Beddi certainly isn't cheap, but I don't think that it's unreasonably expensive, either. Spotty smart home performance stops me from recommending it outright, but I expect to see improvement as the team at Witti continues to squash the bugs. If nothing else, Beddi is a cool-looking product that's packed with good ideas -- I say it's worth waking up to, and worth the splurge.