It has proven to be a most popular competition and three aXbo units could be won, courtesy of aXbo in Austria where this unique product is manufactured.
We promised a final write-up-- following our original review here -- the people's verdict.
Two of the three winners decided to let us know what they thought of the aXbo.
Read their reports below.
By Triyakshana Venkatraman
After winning the aXbo, I waited in great anticipation to actually get the product and use it. It arrived well packaged the day after Christmas. First of all, it is beautiful to look at in silvery grey and white with a clear almost transparent display screen. The clock was a little bigger that I had imagined it would be (but that is because I have a terrible sense for dimensions, duh!!), but it is only as tall as a 15 ounce can of beans. The display is huge (almost two thirds the size of a beer bottle cap), so you cannot miss the time even when you are looking at it through the soft blue backlight, blurry eyed in the middle of the night. Other transparent displays I have used in the past have had the problem that you cannot actually make out the time unless you have the right background. The aXbo does not suffer from this problem. Not only can you see the time clearly, you can do so without twisting your body or the clock to back and wrist spraining positions.
Ok, so it looks great, but does it deliver? That was my first question as well and the answer is a resounding YES! The unit is easy to use almost right out of the box. I am too impatient to read instructions of any kind and I could use it right out of the box. I just had to read the part about the sensor and the wristband the rest was easy. It took me less than 10 minutes to set up an alarm for myself. If you want to read the directions first, they are clear, well written and easy to follow. There is even an index tab so that you don’t keep flipping pages back and forth for the legend to each new term you read. The wristband is comfortable, washable and does not shrink when washed. You bet I washed it!!
It is hard to miss the directions to put the sensor inside the wristband. There are pointers on the sensor as well as the band. The only problem I have consistently faced is finding the button on the sensor, through the wristband, that activates backlight and turns off the alarm remotely. The button sits below the embroidered logo on the wristband, and it takes a few tries to get it right. It’s always a hit or miss for me. Some mornings I could turn off the alarm remotely, others I have had to reach out to the clock to turn it off cause even after multiple presses on the wristband I could not find the button to quiet the alarm. The button is hidden under the logo. It's not a big negative point, just a minor inconvenience sometimes.
I liked the seven alarm sound options, and would have preferred a few more standard alarm sounds. They are a little different from the usual group of alarm sounds. But hey! As long as it wakes me up in the morning and keeps me chugging along I am happy. The alarm increases in volume slowly up to the maximum alarm volume you select and that I think is a charming idea. Once I got used to it I wake up as soon as it goes off and turn it off before it gets to the maximum volume. It does not wake up my roommate next door which is a huge advantage in dorm rooms.
I have used it for about six weeks every single day, and it has not failed to wake me up at the appropriate time and best of all I have woken up feeling refreshed most times. The three times that I woke up not so refreshed was when I had barely three hours of sleep. The moral of the story is that aXbo cannot help the sleep deprived. However, all three times, the alarm went off at the set time since the sensor did not detect a wake cycle within the thirty-minute window. The other times I woke up between 10 and 20 minutes before the actual alarm time which was great. Oh! You have to remember to turn the alarm off if you do not want to be woken up. Even if you do not wear the wristband, the alarm goes off at the set time. I learned this lesson the hard way one Sunday morning.
Once charged, the aXbo runs on battery for a little over two weeks. My one big issue is the big USB plug. It is at least twice the size of regular USB plugs so takes up as much space when I am charging it. It does charge right out of my MacBook, and I did not have to use the power cable to charge except to test the system and it works fine. The upside is that you get all the different plugs you need to use in every continent. However, if you use the USB through your computer to charge it I do not see why you would need to carry the multiple plug sockets around.
Who doesn’t love a free gadget, but this was something I was willing to buy if I did not win the contest, and after using it for about two months I am sure I would have not have been disappointed even if I had shelled out the 200 Euros or more for it. It is worth every penny. Gone are the bad morning days! Now, I wake up feeling good about mornings and my coffee pot finally gets a rest. My caffeine withdrawal is another story. Two Thumbs up to the aXbo.
By Jake Vander Ende
It was on January 3rd that I got the aXbo Sleep Phase Alarm Clock (SPAC) in the mail from DigitalReviews and my first impression of it was one of great intimidation. The package itself was from Austria and, upon opening the box, there was the clock itself, two wristbands, two small, white, rectangular objects, a mysterious, small, black block, two cables that appear to be USB, a bag of what looks like four wall plugs with strange connections, and four instruction booklets in four different languages. My initial response wanted to put it away and not deal with it, as it seemed way too complicated for an alarm clock.
Instead, however, I took everything out of the box, set it all in one place, and looked for the instruction booklet that was in English. Finding it, I decided to read through the entire thing, something that I suggest anyone who buys an aXbo should do. The booklet is extremely straightforward and unambiguous and made something that looked complicated seem very user-friendly and easy to set up. In about fifteen minutes I understood what all of the crazy-looking parts were for, had the clock set to my time, had an alarm set for work, and got to download software to analyze my sleeping patterns with at a later time. My only complaint at that point was that the dial was a little too sensitive. A month later, I still have a little bit of trouble with it, but the sensitivity is very much akin to that of an iPod; difficult to get used to, impossible to master entirely, but ultimately a fairly reasonable system. My one lasting issue with it is that you have to click the wheel as a button, just like a larger version of Mouse 3, and sometimes it can be a bit of a pain.
So that night, my alarm was set, I put the wristband sensor on and went to bed. The wristband itself seemed a little tight, but the material is pretty great (it’s some type of terry cloth and extremely soft and inconspicuous once it’s on). Not once did I wake up because my wrist was uncomfortable, sweaty, or anything else unpleasant. By morning, it seemed a little tight and I had that strange feeling of my arm hair being in the wrong place, which was ultimately only slightly uncomfortable. I had used the small wristband, however, and luckily the aXbo comes packed with both a small and a large wristband. Upon trying the larger size out the next night, I still haven’t had any further issues with it, though I do find myself wearing it a little higher on my forearm than my wrist. I have small wrists, however, so it may be in aXbo’s best interest to produce a different array of sizes (perhaps a medium) if their smallest band is too small for even my wrist. Other than that, the wrist band ranks in fairly well; for something that seems like it would be rather obtrusive, it’s well camouflaged to the senses.
As far as actually waking up goes, the aXbo really does do its job. About a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and, on top of that, I’ve had a history of responding pretty poorly to all forms of alarm clocks, yet the only time that I’ve failed to wake up with the aXbo was an instance of operator error (I had changed the time settings from 24 hour to 12 hour on accident and not realized that I had set my alarm for the evening on accident. I recommend leaving the aXbo on 24-hour due to the fact that, on 12 hour, it is easy to make this mistake). For anyone with a varying schedule or the need to be up at odd hours, this is where I have found the aXbo to shine the most. This alarm clock will indeed wake you up from any amount of sleep, regardless of how short. Being a college student, I’ve tested this on anywhere from 2 to 12 hours of sleep and it’s just as effective at either end (though the sweet spot, as the box suggests, is roughly 8 hours. Setting the alarm for about 9 hours after you intend to go to bed will insure that you have time to fall asleep and get a very adequate window of time to wake up exactly as the clock intends you to).
Being able to wake you up effectively and reliably is just one part of the aXbo’s strength, however. The real selling point for me was that not only did I find myself waking up when I was supposed to, but I would be waking up feeling reasonably refreshed, I would have a few extra minutes in the morning from the wakeup window, and I have consistently found myself completely awake through classes and work, even on as little sleep as two hours. The downside to this is that, while I have found myself to feel refreshed earlier and for a longer span of time, I have also noticed that there’s no real crash window after that; rather than gradually getting tired, if I was sleep deprived, I would suddenly crash and need to sleep immediately much earlier (for instance, sleeping from 4-6am, feeling refreshed from 6am-3pm, and involuntarily crashing from 3pm until I had recovered from the previous night). Waking up with the aXbo has consistently deprived me of that extra willpower to stay awake, but only on nights of deprived sleep. Getting a full night’s rest and waking up with aXbo is everything that the company has advertised it to be.
Lastly, I do have a few comments about the various features that are included with the aXbo. First and foremost, its battery life; You can either leave the aXbo plugged in or treat it as a cell phone and charge it only when it’s low on battery power, but either way it will only charge when it needs power. This makes for incredible longevity, as I found that even when I took it with me for an entire week without charging it, it still functioned exactly as it would have if it had been plugged into the wall. If cell phones had the battery efficiency of the aXbo, we would be charging them once a week.
As far as internal nuances go, the aXbo has a handful of different alarms and three different “Chillout” sounds. The alarms are reasonable, including everything from the sound of birds to crazy drums to some very new age and experimental sounds that remind me of science fiction elevator music. On the “Chillout” sounds, however, the aXbo falls short. These sounds are designed to play when you’re going to sleep (and shut off automatically when you fall asleep), but they really seem like an afterthought or a gimmick; they function exactly how they’re supposed to, but the sounds bytes themselves are no more than 30-60 seconds on and loop incessantly. Being that the aXbo can connect to a computer, it would be nice to see some downloadable sounds, both in the way of alarms and “Chillout” sounds.
On that note, there are some pretty incredible things that one can do with an aXbo and using the computer, if one were so inclined (such as uploading one’s sleep cycle data and analyzing it with a downloadable program and downloading software directly to the aXbo that allows it to work for “power naps”), but I was a bit intimidated by the apparent complexity of the programs; unlike the alarm clock, there is no friendly instruction manual with helpful pictures. Even so, anything on the website is peripheral to the functionality of the clock itself, so it’s really a bonus that such options exist at all.
The aXbo offers a space-age design, is very ergonomic, features a light-up blue screen, and simply has a look that makes people who’ve never seen one salivate in fascination. If it came in more color options than white, I would have no complaints.
After a month, I’ve barely ever had a problem with the alarm clock’s functionality itself, save for sensitivity in the wheel and a bit of difficulty reading AM/PM in 12 hour mode, errors that readily lead to operation problems if not attended to. Improvements could be made in these areas and it would be rock solid.
Excellent battery life, portability, downloadable options and updates, a variety of alarms, and sounds to accompany you as you fall asleep. Still, the range of sound options is narrow as of right now, but that could easily be remedied if the company released a sound download.
As someone with a sleep disorder, I’m very much impressed with the aXbo’s sheer effectiveness at doing exactly what it advertises; waking you up on time and leaving you feeling refreshed when you do so. There are nitpicks to make about the details, but none of them are so major as to alter my recommendation for it. If you have trouble with alarm clocks, sleep at abnormal hours, or just want to wake up in the morning without needing a coffee, get one of these; you won’t regret it.