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|Clocks have helped people find out the time
for hundreds of years. More recently, numeric
displays have replaced the familiar clock
face as the time piece of choice. For a few
dollars more, you can now buy an atomic clock
that receives a signal broadcast out of Colorado
and automatically sets itself to the correct
time. Not only do these clocks offer extraordinary
accuracy (typically accurate to less than
one-thousandth of a second), but they eliminate
the need to reset them twice a year with
the change to and from Daylight Savings Time.
When buying a digital clock, what should
you look for?
Fancy clocks have features such as calendars,
temperature, ceiling projection, voice for
speaking the time, and phases of the moon.
- Visible display - Generally, digital clocks use one of two
technologies for the display:
Wall clocks should have numbers large enough
to see from across the room.
for your bedroom nightstand
and travel clocks
should be visible at night.
- LCD displays have black numbers and depend
on contrast with the lighting shining on
their face. At night, they are back lit by
a small bulb.
- LED clocks have glowing letters, usually
reddish orange or bluish green, that should
be bright enough in broad daylight but not
too bright at night. Often these clocks have
a day/night illumination level switch.
- Power supply - Most small and wall mounted digital clocks
require batteries, but some use ordinary
alkaline or rechargeable while others use
lithium. Battery type is important if you
expect to illuminate the display a lot or
use it primarily for infrequent travel. Lithium
batteries tend to have the longest life.
Desk clocks generally plug into the wall.
- Alarm - Desk clocks used as alarm clocks should
have a choice between music and buzzers.
Travel clocks need to be loud enough to rouse
you out of a hotel bed even after a long
meeting the day before. Some models have
two alarms (one for music and one for buzzer),
which is a feature especially attractive
to those that like to be gently awakened
but need the buzzer to make sure they get
up. Try to listen to the alarm before you
buy it to make sure that it drives you out
of bed but not crazy.