It has been about two weeks since Sunny – our new alarm clock – was delivered to our house. I learned about the wake-up light about a year and a half ago at a Philips lighting seminar in Toronto. The idea captivated me then, the videos and reviews of how it worked enthralled me while researching it further, and so far for me, it has lived up to my expectations.
Money is always a hot topic in my family, so the price tag of $179.99 + shipping and tax was a bit intimidating. This is the main reason why it took us so long to order it, putting it off over another dreadful winter of cell phone alarms waking us up in the dark. We looked at older models and what we would have to give up for the money that we were saving but finally decided to spoil ourselves and get the model that had all of the features that we wanted – the Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Coloured Sunrise Simulation.
Playing around with it once we got it set up proved anti-climatic as we tried skipping the manual and just setting up the alarm profiles without actually turning on the alarms. Once we had that figured out and also learned of the test function (a 90 second sunrise simulation), we had a lot of fun. We realized that the clock even adjusts with the brightness in the room so that it can always be read, but isn’t overwhelming at night. We went to sleep to a 15 minute simulated sunset that night and I awoke to a 30 minute simulated sunrise accompanied by nature sounds while my wife rolled over after a rough night with our youngest child. I’m not sure if it was the slightly later hours of my new job or if it was the wake-up light, but waking up in the dark has, so far, been much easier than in years past for me.
My wife’s favourite feature has been the sunset simulation that has been putting us to sleep each night. It has helped her to pick up her phone a lot less while in bed and allow the light to slowly lull her to sleep. Since we wake up at different times each morning (her wake-up time often often dependent on when the children wake up), she has not had as much opportunity to enjoy the wake up features of Sunny.
Some of the reasons why we decided to go with the HF3520 model were the light source, the sunset simulation, the addition of a second alarm time, and the 5 nature sound options as opposed to the 2 in earlier models. The FM radio is something that we haven’t used yet, but is also new to this model.
– This model is one of the first to use a 12W LED source instead of the 100W halogen bulb used in earlier models. The energy savings are quite apparent, and you will not need to replace a bulb at any time (life expectancy of the LEDs is about 60 years). The LEDs also allow the sunrise and sunset to reach a wider colour range that the orange halogen bulb was unable to reach.
– The sunset simulation essentially mimics the sunrise simulation, only in reverse. When the lamp is on – regardless of the brightness you have it set at – you simply press the sunset button and select the desired time and the light will slowly fade over that time.
– The second alarm time allows us to be able to set one profile for the weekdays, and another for the weekend without having to change the time each night when we set the alarm (though you do have that option too). Turning on each of the alarms is quite simple with the two alarm buttons being on either side of the device.
– Having only two alarm sounds instead of five would not have been a deal breaker for us, but my wife was quite excited to have the extra options and since we wanted the other features from this model, this was another nice added bonus. So far we have only listened to them all once while setting up the alarm profiles (and once more after a power outage), she picked her favourite, and we have been rolling with it, but that is something that we will likely look into more if the winter hits us hard and we need a change.
The only problem that we’ve noticed with the Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light is that it doesn’t have a battery back-up, so if the power goes out or you unplug it to move it you will need to re-set the clock and alarm. If the power goes out in the middle of the night, you could be right out of luck. I’ve kept my cell phone alarm set for 5 minutes after my wake-up light alarm time just in case that happens, and am in the routine of dismissing the alarm before leaving the room to start getting ready for the day.
Overall, we’re quite happy with Sunny. It acts as a reading light, gives us a dimmer in our room, is great for helping us to fall asleep and wake up, and even adjusts with the brightness in the room. There are always ways that a product can improve, and this one already has improved a lot from the original models. I look forward to seeing how this one moves forward with additional features, but we’re quite happy that we will have help waking up this winter as days get shorter and desire to get out of bed in the morning dwindles.