Aurora, a popular choice, recently updated to version 4, and went from donationware to a licensing setup (a single copy will now run you EU$15.00. And Awaken was recently included in the Macheist bundle, but could it be that a donationware app like Alarm Clock 2 will do what you want, or is Koingo Software's Alarm Clock Pro the way to go?
We decided to wrap them all up into one big table-- app vs. app vs. app vs. app for a wakeup showdown. After the jump, find our first Tabulator battle (thanks to sister site Joystiq for the slick formatting) and discover which clock and timer program deserves to press play on your wakeup playlist.
|Alarm Clock 2||Alarm Clock Pro||Awaken 4||Aurora 4|
|Authorship and Pricing|
|Made by||Robbie Hanson||Koingo Software||Embraceware||metaquark|
|Trial||N/A||15 days||14 days||14 days|
|Requires||10.4 or later||10.4 or later||10.4 or later and iTunes 6.0 or higher (10.3 can use version 3)||10.5 only|
|Set alarm exclusions||No||Yes||No||Yes (skip next occurence)|
|Name alarms||No (uses default time and date)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Setting to wake computer on alarm||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Snooze alarm||Yes (adjustable)||Yes (adjustable)||Yes (adjustable only in 5-10 min increments||Yes (adjustable)|
|Adjustable alarm duration||Yes||Yes||Yes (adjustable only in 5-10 min increments||Yes|
|Wake up to...|
|iTunes playlist||Yes||Yes (can pause/resume as well)||Yes||Yes|
|iTunes podcast (without playlist)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|iTunes/MP3 stream from URL||No||Yes||Yes (using scripts)||Yes (using launcher)|
|Custom sounds (without iTunes)||No||Yes (audio or video. ajustable playback speed)||Yes (updated)||Yes|
|System functions||No||Many, including screensaver, screenshot, shell commands, internet functions, and system alerts||Run application||Launch any file|
|Multiple events per alarm||No||Yes (many)||Yes (can play sound and launch item)||Yes (can play sound and run app)|
|Fade-in||"Easy Wake" (adjustable)||Yes (adjustable per alarm)||Yes (adjustable per alarm)||Yes (adjustable)|
|Sleep out of...|
|Egg Timer||Yes||Yes||Yes||Kind of (can use sleep timer to count down)|
|Menubar item||Yes (no other main GUI)||Yes (shows time and can create and edit alarms)||Yes (shows upcoming alarms)||Yes (shows upcoming alarms)|
|Alarms outside of program||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Apple Remote support||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Album display during playback||No||No||No||Yes|
|Other extras||Not really||Chronoindex (whatever that is), Time zone calculator, Task list (with speakable events), Uptimer, Swimclock-- there's a lot of stuff in here||Good looking interface, backup alarm||Impressive sleep timer, nice display, EyeTV compatibility|
Update: Ironically, I stayed up late doing a post about programs that help you wake up early, so if there are changes that need to be made, just post them in the comments, and I'll make sure the table stays updated. Already, we've identified one problem (a series of features in the table were listed under the wrong app), so if you see more, let me know and I'll fix it.
Also, this table reflects the defaults for the app's UI-- lots of things can be accomplished with Applescript or other tweaking, but the features listed in the table are according to whether the app itself offers an option, without extra coding.
Finally, already one developer has appeared in our comments and promised to update their app, so thanks to all the developers for going under the microscope for us-- all four of these are great pieces of software.