Hands-on test: Beddi, Bluetooth smart radio alarm clock
The humble bedside clock radio gets a 21st-century reboot with Beddi, “the intelligent alarm clock”.
Thanks to the burgeoning Internet of Things and a world of ‘smart’ devices, almost every standard household appliance is being reborn as an ‘intelligent’ device, connected to at least one other equally intelligent device in your home.
It is in this spirit that Witti Design created Beddi, “the intelligent alarm clock” - although, as it turns out, Beddi is not quite as intelligent as you might initially expect. It has zero Wi-Fi or other internet connectivity, the radio is FM not Internet or DAB and there’s no direct docking facility for the smartphone device that Beddi needs in order to unlock its more intelligent features.
However, while these might sound like technological fails in a smart device in 2017, Beddi still possesses a great deal of charm and appeal, its quirky hybrid ‘smartly dumb’ approach to operation actually making it joyfully simple but full-featured in use – and hackproof. No one is going to be able to infiltrate your Wi-Fi network via Beddi because there isn’t any Wi-Fi onboard!
Without a smartphone paired with it, Beddi is a digital clock radio, with a decent-sounding pair of speakers for its FM radio, a soft ambient backlight and either static or changing mood lighting all around the base, which can cycle through various pretty colours (a lot nicer than it might sound and rather relaxing, as it turns out).
However, when you pair a smartphone with Beddi, its headline features become available via an app on your smartphone, effectively exploiting your smartphone’s innate intelligence. Presumably Witti reasoned that why bother reinventing the wheel, building much of that intelligence into Beddi - and significantly inflating the cost - when Beddi can just borrow the smartphone’s brain as and when it needs it? Witti describes Beddi as “Bluetooth enabled and App-controlled”. Seems about right.
The app is where you control Beddi’s advanced functions. With sleep quality high on many people’s agendas, Beddi does its bit for you here, offering a choice of white noise or sounds of nature (wind, fan, rain, ocean, forest) as you drift off to sleep and then gently rousing you with a gradual wake-up process in the morning, using the sunrise simulation soft back-light as a wake-up light up to 30 minutes before your chosen ascending alarm itself begins to sound.
The alarm sound can be either one of the four regular chimes, an FM radio station or any song from your phone’s music library. You can set up to four different alarms for different days, according to your schedule. The long snooze button, helpfully placed at the front of the top of the clock, has customisable settings. We snooze a lot and never missed the button once.
We also like that the clock face has four brightness settings, including completely off for total darkness, and you can easily cycle between them all according to your need. We liked semi-bright during the day, so we could see the time from across the room, then dropping it down to almost off at sleepy time. This is still bright enough for a bleary eye to half open and discern that it’s only 3:27am.
Beddi is also a Bluetooth speaker, so you can stream music from your phone either from downloaded files or via any of the popular music services (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music etc). You could also set one of Beddi’s three smart buttons to trigger a saved playlist directly from Spotify or Apple Music. Naturally, the colour-changing mood lights can be set to react to the music. Nice.
A word on those smart buttons: each button can have three functions, set up via the app and then actioned by clicks, double-clicks or long presses. You can only see the preset functions on the app, though, so either you’ll need an eidetic memory to recall what you chose for each one or refer to the app to remind yourself. One other caveat about the app: it only shows what you’ve set when a Beddi is in range, so forget fiddling with your set-up while you’re on the train home.
While Beddi isn’t a true docking solution, it does have two USB charging ports at the back - one 2.1A port for rapid charging and one 1A port - so you won’t run your device’s battery flat. The USB ports are charging only - no data transfer - but having these two ports does help tidy up bedside plug clutter.
The app also localises information for you, providing traffic and weather information sourced from the internet so you can figure out what to wear and how much time you’ve got left in bed in order to still make it to work on time.
You can also use Beddi to communicate with other smart devices in your home - light bulbs, thermostats, kettles etc - from the comfort of your bed, programming Beddi’s smart buttons to control specific functions, although this will all only work when your phone is connected and the app is running. When you’re out of the house, nothing can happen. The smart buttons do work when everything is connected, though: for example, with one click we could switch on a smart lamp downstairs.
We did experience occasional weirdness with Beddi. The smart buttons would sometimes become unresponsive, so a quick power cycle (turning it off and on again) was required to fix this. Witti told us that some units may require a firmware update, although at time of writing this was only available for Windows PCs, not Apple Macs. To be fair, the unresponsiveness isn’t a deal-breaker, as it’s merely a one-second fix and only happened a couple of times in several months’ daily use.
One other observation is that because every action has to be controlled from the app on your phone, it’s easy to walk away from a snoozed alarm, hop in the shower and five minutes later wonder what on earth that godawful noise coming from the bedroom is. Turns out that’ll be your ascending alarm sound reaching fever pitch - the only way to shut off an alarm completely is via the app. We also noticed that if you happen to wake up before your set alarm starts and you remember to turn it off properly via the app, the ambient backlight stays on and you have to turn that off from the physical button on Beddi itself. As we said at the start of this review, Beddi is quirky.
These are all minor quibbles, though, and on balance Beddi remains a commendable combination of simplicity and intelligence. Unconnected, it could simply be a subtle, stylish addition to a bedside table and a companionable sleep/wake aid, but its capabilities and usefulness are greatly extended when paired via Bluetooth with a smartphone and controlled via the app. It’s Beddi time.
Beddi is priced at £99 and is available for purchase on Amazon UK (where it is currently selling for approximately £69).
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