Field test: travel alarm clocks

Travel the world and arrive on time.

By Chris Morrison, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Shove aside the standard-issue hotel clock radio, with its stuck-in-the-'70s fake-wood finish and cryptic I-sure-hope-I-set-this-thing-right controls.

The newest travel alarm clocks fit easily into any suitcase and inspire confidence with features like automatic synchronization to foreign time zones, easy-to-read displays that can be projected onto walls, and bed-shaking alarm technology.

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Here are three top models designed to allow us to rest easy.

La Crosse Technology WS-5360 6.3 oz.; $20 www.lacrossetechnology.com (3 stars)

Pros

Eyesight ain't what it used to be? Anyone can read the time on this baby: With the push of the snooze button, it projects an adjustable digital display that's about 10 inches across when cast on a ceiling or wall 6 feet away. The clock runs on AC at home and backup batteries in the field.

Cons

The four control buttons employ iconography that resembles hieroglyphics, so don't forget to pack the instruction manual until you get the hang of it. The chunky support arm and swiveling laser projector are also a problem - together, they make this clock feel as bulky as a fat paperback.

Buy this one if ...

Waking up is a two-step process - first you paw for the bifocals, then you look at the time.

Sonic Alert Sonic Shaker SBP100 5.7 oz.; $30 www.sonicalert.com (3 stars)

Pros

The pick for those who can sleep through regular alarms, wake-up calls, hurricanes, and in-room air-raid sirens. Set the alarm and stick the clock, which resembles a streamlined fire detector, under a corner of your mattress. Then awaken to Sonic Alert's rock 'n' roll: hideous beeping, accompanied by a powerful, rumbling vibration designed to shake you awake. The alarm's volume, while nowhere near the 90 decibels advertised, is still painfully loud if the unit is left on the nightstand.

Cons

It's impossible to see the time when your clock is stuffed under a mattress. And above the covers, the display is rather plain.

Buy this one if ...

You can outsleep a hibernating bear.

Seiko Global R-Wave 2.1 oz.; $35 www.seikoclocks.com (4 stars)

Pros

The Seiko never suffers from jet lag: By picking up radio signals sent from regional atomic clocks around the world, the R-Wave automatically synchronizes to local time, whether you're in Manhattan, Frankfurt, or Tokyo. The easy-to-read LCD screen lights at the press of a button, leaving your room otherwise blessedly dark. And the glossy finish is handsome enough that you'll consider using the clock at home.

Cons

A flimsy plastic arm props it up, so you have to handle the device with kid gloves. And if the clock doesn't easily receive the aforementioned radio waves, you're forced to lean out your window in hopes of getting reception.

Buy this one if ...

Your commute takes you through more time zones than bridge tolls.  Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.