6 Surprisingly High-Tech Ways to Wake Up

If your list of New Year's resolutions includes a determination to get to where you going in time, maybe what you need is a new alarm clock. Sure, you may have one of those digital classics with dual alarms, battery backup for power outages, and maybe even an AM/FM radio or CD player. But there's so much more to an alarm clock these days; don't sell yourself short without considering the alternatives.

Can You Hear Me Now? Some clocks will tell you the time when you press a button, but those that listen to you when you talk to them are even better. The Voice Control alarm clocks from MOSHI Lifestyle lets you speak verbal commands to the clock, which will then speak back to you to confirm your instructions. Plus they're under $40.

Have you ever had to break out reading glasses to make sure that you've set an alarm correctly? With one of these, just tell "Moshi" to set the alarm to the desired time; it will repeat back the time so you know that the clock is set correctly. And it will even listen to you when you want to turn off the alarm in the morning — no more fumbling in the dark for the off button.

For iPod People: Why do you want to go to sleep or wake up to music that somebody else chooses for you? You've got your own hand-picked collection right there in your iPod, so use it. There are literally hundreds of alarm clocks available that include iPod docking stations, with prices ranging from under $50 to hundreds of dollars.

Toward the upper end of that range, you'll find the Acoustic Research ART1 Clock Radio with its stylish wood veneer cabinet and advanced OLED display panel. The top of the case is touch sensitive, making it easy to trigger the mute and snooze functions. And you can go to sleep and wake up to your own recorded music.

Going Green: Maybe you want an alarm clock that will let you live "off the grid." Or maybe you live somewhere with unreliable power and you don't want to spend a small fortune on batteries. Consider a solar model, which can turn light — either from the sun or simply from the lighting in your living or work space — into juice for alarm.

Some are hybrid designs that also use batteries; a single set of batteries can last five years in this situation. Or you can choose one like the Solar Radio-Controlled Alarm Clock from Seth Thomas, which uses rechargeable batteries along with a solar panel for care-free operation. It even shows the current temperature, too.

Does Anybody Really Know? My primary pet peeve is setting clocks, and the second one is living in a house where every clock shows a slightly different time. In my opinion, a clock should know what time it is without my help (and so should anything connected to the Internet, for that matter).

Fortunately, there are clocks that can receive a radio signal that tells them the precise time. They're called atomic clocks because they get the time from a government atomic clock in Colorado. So a clock with this feature, such as the Sharp SPC364, can synchronize on this signal every night all by itself. You know that the time and date are correct and you don't have to lift a finger.

Foretelling the Future: If an alarm is smart enough to know what time it is, why shouldn't it know more than that? How about the weather forecast, including projected high and low temperatures and weather conditions?

Brookstone sells the WeatherCast alarm clock that receives a five-day forecast automatically from AccuWeather; you can select from forecasts for 152 different U.S. cities. The clock receives the information wirelessly and automatically updates the forecasts for free.

Projecting a Positive Image: So you're lying there in bed, in the dark of night, wondering what time it is. You can twist around to spot the face of your alarm clock, but there has to be a better way. Fortunately, there are a number of alarm clocks that will also project the time onto the ceiling. These projected images are typically faint, so they work best in a darkened room. The Memorex MC2896 has an added advantage; the projector head swivels so that you can aim it at the ceiling or at a wall. It is also a clock radio in addition to having typical alarm clock functions.