Tabulator: Alarm clock showdown

Mike Schramm
M. Schramm|02.08.08

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Tabulator: Alarm clock showdown
Mac users must be extremely heavy sleepers, because there is no shortage of alarm clock software for your Mac. If you need to wake up, your Mac will get you up. But which one rules the rooster?

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
Version 2.4.5 8.2.9 4.0.11 4.0
Price Donationware $19.95 $12.95 EU$15.00 (US$22.09)
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
Universal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wake up!
One-time alarm Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weekly alarm Yes Yes Yes Yes
Relative alarms No Yes No No
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)
Sleepy time
Sleep Timer No No Yes Yes
Sleep out of...
iTunes No No Yes Yes
DVD Player No No No Yes
Quicktime movie No No No Yes
Egg Timer Yes Yes Yes Kind of (can use sleep timer to count down)
Stopwatch Yes Yes No No
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
Hourly chime No Yes No No
Fullscreen mode No No Yes Yes
Apple Remote support Yes No Yes Yes
Growl compatibility No Yes No No
Album display during playback No No No Yes
Automatic updates Yes Yes Yes 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.
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