Smartphone alarm sounds are no better than the beep beep beep sounds of a traditional alarm clock. Most of the time the alarm sound just isn’t enough to jar you to wakefulness. It’s easiest to just hit snooze. Again. Hopefully you’ll wake up next round.
There is a better way to wake up!
The science behind sunrise simulation is strong. There are many sunrise-simulating alarm clocks on the market, ranging in price from several hundred dollars down to less than $20. Are the more expensive options a better choice, or are the lower-priced ones just as good?
Today we will look at the inexpensive, popular Totobay Sunrise Alarm Clock. This article is a Totobay Wake Up Light Review, and we’ll be looking into its ability to surpass a conventional alarm clock.
Whether you need to wake up early in the morning or late in the afternoon for your night shift work, dawn simulating alarms, or wake up lights, give us a shimmering ray of hope for a better morning routine.
Totobay Wake Up Light Review
There are many manufacturers of wake up lights. Philips, with their HF series of alarm clocks, is certainly the most well-known. But their alarms are quite expensive, and many other lower-priced brands abound.
In this review, we’ll just focus on one lower-priced sunrise alarm clock. This review will look at whether the Totobay Wake-Up Light is worth its price, or if you are better off with another brand. To do that, we focused on how well it performs, how convenient it is to use, and the extras it offers.
Key Features at a Glance
- Sunrise & Sunset Simulation
- Snooze Function
- 7 Sounds To Choose From
- 7 Color Nightlight Options
- Multiple Ways To Charge
- Touch Control
- Adjustable Brightness
- 12 or 24 Hour Format
Dimensions and Specs
- Dimensions 7.1 x 4.1 x 7.1 inches
- Weight: 9.1 oz
- Voltage: 110V
At first glance, you’ll be able to appreciate the aesthetic value of this circular wake up lamp. It has a sleek and simple design that won’t clash with the other decorations you have in your room.
The front side consists of the lighted outer area and a central circular area. This is where the digital LED screen shows the time. Directly below the time are the 8 control buttons. These control the time setting, alarm setting, sunset setting, FM radio, snooze, light color, and two buttons for brightness.
The back of the unit provides 4 additional buttons that allow for even more customization. There control the format of the time, the brightness level of the time display, alarm music, and volume of the music.
The stand is also sleek and slim but is sturdy enough to support the device.
All in all, the appearance of the Totobay is good. But it is clearly a step down from the aesthetics of the Philips line of wake-up lights. Of course, the nicer Philips ones are more than double the price. The Philips design unquestionably influenced Totobay (I think the common phrase is “knock off”). Even still, the Totobay is attractive enough, and it doesn’t look cheap at all.
Natural Light Simulation And More
The Totobay Wake Up Light has a sunrise and sunset simulation function that works like an alarm. The sunrise simulation starts with low-intensity light 30 minutes before the set alarm time. Then, it gradually brightens as it reaches the time set for the alarm. The bright light can only be turned off by manually pressing the alarm button.
This simulation functions in a similar manner to the higher end lights like the Philips ones, but there is one major difference. The nicer wake-up lights change their color temperature throughout the wake-up process. They go from a deep red early dawn color, and slowly change to a fuller spectrum, more blue-cast daylight color as the wake-up process concludes.
Totobay’s simulation doesn’t do that. It works more like an automated dimmer switch on a light. The color temperature of the light doesn’t change, but the overall intensity of the light does.
This makes the dawn simulation much less realistic.
The same dynamic works on the sunset simulation. It starts with the brightest level of illumination. It then gradually decreases in intensity within 30 minutes until the set time alarm is reached.
This can be used to help users quiet down for the evening. These two settings are designed to gradually wake you up or let you fall asleep.
Setting the Time
When first plugged in, and every time that there’s a power interruption, you have to resent set the time. After setting the time, an alarm can now be set. At this point, it can only be set to one wakeup alarm or sunrise simulation, and one sleep or sunset simulation.
For most buyers, one is enough. But some may find this a significant limitation and may want multiple alarm settings.
The alarm repeats daily as long as it isn’t unplugged or there is no power outage. If the power is cut, there is a battery backup. It’s not super reliable, and you may need to reprogram the wake-up light again regardless.
Apart from the gradual increasing brightness of the light, the alarm also triggers sound alarms. There are a total of 7 to choose from on the Totobay. These sounds are mostly gentle wake-up sounds like piano, violin, bagpipe, ocean waves, thrush singing, “DIDI”, and the radio.
Although there are many sounds to choose from, the quality of the speaker on the Totobay is lacking. And if you love to wake up to the radio, this may not be your best bet. The radio on the Totobay is pretty weak. It’s hard to use and doesn’t function very well. Best to choose a different sunrise alarm clock radio.
There’s also some general confusion regarding turning on and off the music alarms. Some users find that they’ve accidentally shut the sound of altogether, while others can’t get it to stop making noise. The manual isn’t ideal, and is what you’d expect from a knock-off to a high-end product.
Snooze and other Functions
This newly upgraded wake up light now comes with a snooze function. This can be activated by touching the keys on the front of the lamp. This gives users 5 minutes until it plays again. The sound alarm lasts for about 2 minutes.
Apart from its main function as an alarm, it can also function as a beautiful clock. It allows for 12-hour format or 24-hour format display. The brightness of the time display can also be adjusted from high to low or it may also be turned off.
It also functions as a night light or a reading lamp. The lamp brightness can be adjusted among 10 different intensities. That said, many find it too bright to be a functional night light.
As a night light, users can also choose from 7 colors including white, red, orange purple, blue, indigo, and green. These color options are a complete waste, and you’ll almost certainly never use them after the first time you play around with it. Totobay should spend their time making the dawn simulation more realistic, rather than bothering with a bunch of color settings.
Compatible With Multiple Power Source
There are three ways to power this wake up light. First is through a USB cable that you can connect to your computer. Second is through a wall jack, and the third is by using two AAA batteries.
Take note that using batteries only will not enable the light function. For the best experience, manufacturers suggest plugging it in and adding batteries just in case of power interruption.
The combination of power sources makes this device more reliable.
Plug And Set
No assembly is required for the unit to work. Just plug it in a wall outlet and you’re good to go. You may need to open the back and place batteries, but that’s it for assembly. The stand is attached to the unit, and you simply have to position it on your nightstand.
The initial set-up is also simple. The (+) and (-) buttons are used to set it to the correct time. Once the time is set, the alarm can also be set. One thing to note is that when the unit’s source of power is cut, you have to repeat the steps again.
This is why manufacturers suggest using batteries and plugging it in to avoid reprogramming it again during power interruptions.
The Bottom Line
With all our findings, it is safe to conclude that the Totobay Wake Up Light works, but it has significant limitations. There is still room for improvement.
It can effectively wake you up with dawn or sunrise simulation, but the simulation is nowhere near as high quality as the more expensive Philips HF lights. Although the Totobay provides a wide variety of sounds to accompany its dawn simulation, the sound quality is not that great and could use some improvement. And the manual needs an overhaul, as well.
If you really don’t want to spend much on a wake-up light, the Totobay will give you a reasonable approximation of the Philips HF3520 for somewhere around a quarter of the price.
But really, if you can swing the extra coin, the HF3520 is a much better system. It has much more authentic sunrise simulation, better aesthetics, and better sound quality.
If that’s too much to outlay, the Totobay will almost certainly do a better job than your current phone alarm or clock radio.