Toy of the Week: Atomic Projection Weather Alarm Clock

More than my answering machine, I’ve hated my alarm clock for a long time. About 10 years in fact.

I bought it in college when the alarm on my previous one stopped working. Of course it stopped working on a morning when I had to get up for an 8 am class. The professor had a rule that if you were late for a class, you had a write a paper. I explained to him that my alarm clock broke, but he didn’t care. I went down to Radio Shack, bought an alarm clock off the display (it was the only one they had), and attached the receipt to my paper when I turned it in. I don’t think he was amused.

Anyway, what I hate about my alarm clock is that it’s big. It takes up a third of my nightstand. The controls on top have no grips so it’s impossible to slide them back and forth. It has a radio, but it also sucks.

The other day I got a dealnews alert for the “gadgets” category for the La Crosse Projection Atomic Clock. Let me list the ways in which this clock is geeky:

  1. It’s an atomic clock. That sounds like it might be a nice way to get me some brain cancer, sitting a foot from my head 8 hours a night, but that just means that it sets the time itself. Some really-precise clock in Colorado sends out a signal indicating the time and it tunes into it. Cool. This would have been even better last week when the time change occured. Anne is officially in charge of changing the clocks, but she refuses to do mine. Since I’m lazy, my clock tends to disagree with every other clock in the house for a few weeks a year.
  2. It projects the time on the wall. Regular old LEDs work fine, but displaying it in big numbers on your wall definitely ups the geek factor.
  3. It displays the current indoor temperature and forecasts the weather. I really have no use for this, but it’s neat anyway.
  4. It displays the outdoor temperature via a wireless transmitter. This being California, weather is hardly ever an issue, so this too is nearly useless for me, but I like it.

Despite my previously-mentioned hatred for my current alarm clock, I wasn’t really looking to replace it. I had accumulated $200 of Amazon gift certificates from my birthday, Amazon Visa, and my Amazon Associates clicks. The clock was on sale for $40. Free geeky clock? Sure!

It arrived today at work and I unpacked it as soon as I got home. Once I plugged it in, I immediately discovered a fatal flaw – the projected display was upside down for the direction I wanted to project it! I tried rotating the projection part, but it did nothing. I struggled for a few minutes and in a desperate moment I decided to read the manual. It turns out there’s a button on the back to rotate the display. How counterintuitive.

Once I got the projection working, another problem appeared. One my cats became very interested in the projection the wall. It looked a lot like the laser we use to torture play with him. It made it difficult to set up; he was getting in the way and knocking it over. I think I may need to lock him out of the bedroom tonight.

I decided not to set the clock, but to wait for it to get a signal and set itself. Apparently because of some problem with the Ionosphere, it doesn’t work well during the daytime. That’s a new problem for me. Perhaps only an hour off wasn’t so bad.


  1. I’ve had that clock for three years now. It’s the worst thing ever if you have insomnia because you can see the time ticking away on the wall or ceiling. The outdoor temperature is nice if you’re an early morning runner and want to make excuses not to go running. The nice thing is you don’t have to set the clock twice a year. I watched it change over once when I was up with the baby. That was pretty cool to see it go from 2:59am to 2:00am.

  2. Don’t know if you’re still accepting comments, but I figured this dialogue needed a contrasting point of view. I just purchased this clock from Best Buy for $50.99. I didn’t buy it for the temperature or any other weather feature for that matter. I didn’t buy it for its size, and I didn’t buy it because I think it’s stylish (which I really don’t). I bought it because I am tired of having to kink my neck every morning trying to see the time over the top of my wife, who likes to pile pillows on her head for some reason. I imagined how nice it would be to have the time on my ceiling in big numbers so I can just open my eyes and see it right there in front of my face without having to fumble for my glasses. Well, after a brief trial period I decided to take it back. I guess if your bedroom windows were boarded up it would be okay, but the projection is so weak I can hardly read it when there is any light present in the room at all (i.e. 6am in the summer time). Yeah and I mean even on the brightest setting, which was almost indistiguishable from the dim setting. What a disappointment.

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