Review: Withings Aura Connected Alarm Clock

“Experience an invigorating and refreshing wake-up experience via energizing light and customized music with the Withings Aura Alarm Clock.”

I have tried several alarm clock systems in the past and came to the conclusion that waking up will always be a pain in the butt. Whether it’s your standard alarm app, the radio, silent clocks that are built in your wearable like the Jawbone, Fitbit or Basis Watch, it’s impossible to find a technology that wakes you up peacefully.

Enter the Withings Aura Connected Alarm Clock, that promises me to change my wake up and falling in sleep experience.

1. CON: Aesthetics

Withings Aura

“A stylish lamp,” as Withings call it. “Wow it’s ugly,” is my first reaction. I like my bedroom to be clean and very hotel-like. This lamp draws all the attention, but not in a good way. It looks like a sewage outflow. I didn’t even start using it and was already disappointed. What if I like the features of this lamp but have to deal with ugliness? I start thinking of possible back-up plans to cover or hide it.

2. CON: Touch gestures

You can control the lamp through touch gestures. One tap on top puts it on and off. Swiping the side of the lamp makes the light brighter or less bright. Holding your hand three seconds on the top of the lamp activates the “sleeping mode”.  I like the idea of the touch gestures; unfortunately in practice, it doesn’t work well. I am not sure whether it’s the WIFI/Bluetooth connection that is spotty or the motions, but sometimes the Withings Aura wouldn’t react to my gestures and I would be tapping on it like a mad woman.

3. PRO: Going to bed

Withings Aura red lights

I was still in my exploratory phase and decide to give it a try at night. I held my hand on the lamp for three seconds, and a bright red light appeared together with the relaxing sounds of waves. I was skeptical about sounds at night, but this…this was amazing. I felt  like I was in a hammock on a tropical beach enjoying a sunset. The sound and light fade out gradually after some time. I fell asleep and never noticed that I fell asleep or that the light or sound were gone.

4. PRO: Waking up

In the morning, I was woken up by gentle triangle bells before my scheduled wake-up hour. They became louder and faster when I approached my scheduled wake-up time. While I was slowly waking up, I realized I felt more rested than I usually feel. Was this the effect of falling asleep and being woken up by peaceful sounds? I waited to see what happened the clock turned to 7 am and the alarm should wake me up for sure. The bells were still there, but they are accompanied with a more upbeat sound. This isn’t too bad. I can imagine myself waking up to those sounds on a daily basis.

I turned over to the clock to tap the top, and I realized there is an orange light shining on my face. Because the lamp was standing on the ground, I hadn’t noticed this. Subtlety: top score.

5. PRO: Speakers & Spotify connection

Withings-Aura-Spotify-Integration_thumb

I got out of bed, jump in the shower and while I was picking out my clothes for the day, I blasted my Spotify music through the speakers. When I opened Spotify, I noticed I had “several devices available” from which to play my music. I click on the Withings Aura and in a heartbeat my room is filled with music. In my Spotify app, I can control the volume of the speaker, as well as with my regular volume buttons and swiping the side of the clock.

The quality of the speaker is great. I immediately fall in love with the multi functionality of this device. An alarm clock, speaker and light all in one. Love it.

6. CON: Light/lamp

I expected the Withings Aura to be a full-fledged lamp. Unfortunately there is no way to operate the clock as a lamp. The closest you’ll get is tapping it to turn on an orange light. I am surprised. There is clearly a function for blue and red light, so why can’t I choose different colors when I want to use the clock as a lamp? Also, why is there no option to only use the speakers and not the lamp?

Maybe the device is not as smart or multi-functional as I had initially thought. A bummer!

7. CON: Bluetooth / WIFI connection

The Withings Aura Connected Alarm Clock asks for your WIFI network and Bluetooth connection, so it connects with both. For the last five days during which I’ve used the clock, I have noticed a spotty connection: The lamp would turn on and off without a gesture and my music would break off. I was trying to guess which connection it was using in order to restore it, but I couldn’t figure it out. One night I put my phone in sleep mode, and it would still play music. Now that’s weird.

The speaker might be as great as it is, but if the connection to stream is spotty, it doesn’t have much use.

8. PRO: Environmental sensors

Withings lumosity

The garbage truck came by my place at 5 am. It woke me up (I love you, though, garbage pick-up people!!), and I wondered whether there are any other noises in my room that keep me up at night. I open up the app and check my bedroom stats. Awesomesauce. I never had a wearable checking my environment, so the Withing Aura stands out.

9. PRO: connect with a wearable

Withings also provides a tracker to put in your bed to add extra sleeping metrics to the environmental things it tracks.  I didn’t have a chance to test out the bed tracker, but if that one works seamlessly with the Aura, that would be amazing and one of the most complete sleep trackers on the market so far.

10. CON: Withings app

The Withings Aura features are hidden in the Withings app and it’s hard to find them again. When you connect the device, the alarm settings will show up on top of the screen, whereas to find the stats on your room temperature and noise you’ll have to swipe to the right and find the right screen. Why isn’t everything captured in the same screen?

Would I recommend the Withings Aura?

I definitely recommend the Withings Aura for people who care about falling asleep and waking up effectively. If you want to get a device that is not only going to give you that, but also offers a great speaker and soothing light, go and get it. There are still some kinks to solve before the product becomes really worth its $190 price tag.

Given the fact how fast Withings is evolving it’s products like the Withings Activité Pop, their blood pressure monitor, their scale… I would totally buy the Withings Aura myself and give the company some time and credit to fix those kinks. And being a harsh wearable critic, me being a device says a lot.

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Community manager @Addapp. Fascinated by sleep tracking, healthy nutrition, technology, social media, sunny days and Addapp users.
Training to run the Half Marathon of San Francisco.

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