Provides: App-enhanced alarm clock docking station for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Developer: Stem Innovation
Minimum Requirements: Dockable iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
One of the things I have yet to figure out how to do is command time. Quite honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to. Remember when Spider-Man’s uncle told him that with great power comes great responsibility? I don’t want that responsibility, so you can keep your power to time commanding power.
Or, you can settle for controlling it with the TimeCommand alarm clock docking station from Stem Innovation. Between this giant hockey puck of an alarm clock and the accompanying app, you can control your music, home alarms, travel alarms…even the lights in your room. It’s kind of cool, but it’s also kind of too much.
You’ll notice right away that the TimeCommand is big. Very big. Alarm clocks have shrunk over the years, but this 7.625″ diameter clock is bigger than the one left over from the ’90s that my wife still uses. You’d better have yourself a nicely-sized bed stand if you intend to use this. It also raises 3.32″ high, and your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch will sit in the center. With the iPad, the height and width kind of make sense. But if you’re using the smaller of the iDevices, the TimeCommand dwarfs them to almost comic effect.
Of course, there are benefits to the size and weight (25.1 oz.). First, it’s sturdy, so you won’t be knocking it around the the desk when angered by sleep interruption. Second, it allows for decently sized speakers, which are more than you’ll need for an alarm or for going to sleep while listening to music or white noise.
It also allows for the multitude of buttons in front of your iDevice to be easily found by sleepy fingers, but I have to wonder why there are so many there to begin with. You’ve got a clock button, two alarms, two volume buttons, a lamp dimmer button, and the nap/snooze/sleep button. It’s too much. I think all you really need instant access to is snooze. On the other hand, if you are using the TimeCommand with the iPad, you can’t put these buttons behind it. So, Stem obviously assumed people don’t want to control everything through the free Stem:Connect App.
I’ll get to the app in a moment, I first want to point a couple of the cooler features of the hardware. My favorite, as basic as it may sound, is that docking your iDevice with the TimeCommand automatically sets it. Power outages are suddenly musch less of a hassle, although there is a battery backup if you need it.
I also get a kick out of the light dimmer. You can plug a desk lamp directly into the TimeCommand, then turn it on and off via the button on the top, which is likely much easier to reach than the light switch itself. If you have an incandescent lamp, you can dim it to 15 levels of brightness.
But the TimeCommand functionality kicks into high gear with the Stem:Connect app. Yes, you can use the buttons on the TimeCommand to get all the functionality you’ll need, but why not join us here in the 21st Century, okay? You can set alarms on the clock or in the app and have them transfer to each other. You can set music to fade out as you fall asleep. You can set up a 10-band graphic EQ for better audio when listening to music. You can have the aforementioned desk lamp automatically turn on when the alarm goes off (and control the brightness with the swipe of a finger). You can get the current weather. You can customize the clock interface and backgrounds. You can sleep to music, your playlists, relaxation sounds, or even free Interent radio.
And what’s more, it’s also easy to set up and control, and the interface works equally well on the iPhone and iPad. The backgrounds may be a bit too bright on the iPad, but you can dim them. I also worry a bit about the lack of support behind the iPad, but I felt comfortable using it with my iPhone 4.
There are quite a few similar clock/app combo docking stations out there, and how you feel about them will largely depend upon the functionality and appearance of the app. Here, the TimeCommand excels. Unfortunately, I feel the hardware itself is likely too big for a typical bedside table, and I’m not sold on the idea of safely placing an iPad in there. I’m also not sure I like the blue/black gradient of the clock face contrasting with the orange digits on the TimeCommand itself, but that’s nitpicking.
Even with these drawbacks, the combination of the TimeCommand and the Stem:Connect app makes this a system you should definitely check out when it comes time to ditch that old LED clock radio. I mean, where are you spending your nights? In your modern home or at the Comfort Inn?
Buy the TimeCommand