In all reality, projection alarm clock technology has more or less reached a plateau, with further advances really being novelty features, gimmicks, and other “bells and whistles” which enhance their base performance. Most of this comes in display technology both in how the displays work, and the amount of data they can display. While a lot of this is polished to keep an older technology relevant, some of it can be quite useful.

This guide tells you about the main features you should look for when buying a device and offers 6 best projection alarm clocks you will want to consider. A comparative review of the main brand-name products includes analysis of their strong and weak points as well as the evaluation of their performance. If you still have questions, you can read an FAQ section to have all the answers.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

What Is A Projection Alarm Clock?

Projection alarm clocks cast a soft, luminous image of the time (and sometimes other information) onto a wall or ceiling. The result is a soft, luminous display that’s easily read from a distance, without an overly bright display disrupting your sleep.

While not quite the holographic displays of science fiction (be patient, those are closer than we think), it does have a bit of futurism to it, and a certain charm as a result. These have been popular boutique gifts for some time, once relatively expensive. Now, they’re very affordable, because the projection technology in use has become, itself, quite cheap and commonplace to produce. Lasers and LEDs, which are the primary technologies involved, are not very special anymore.

How Does It Work? Explaining The Technologies Behind

Projection alarm clocks generally work in one of or a mix of two methods. The easiest way is actually with a scanning laser that simply draws the image against a wall. These are low-energy lasers, which don’t do any harm to eyes or materials, similar to those used in barcode scanners and laser pointers.

The other method is using a high-luminance small LED display which is cast through a focusing lens similar to an image projector. These are a little more advanced and tend to have far less “flicker” to the image they cast as a result. This used to be costly, but not so much anymore.

A few projection systems use a mix of both projection lenses and lasers, drawing the image on a receiving plate, which is then focused through the lens. This is less common, and for something as simple as a chronometric display, really overkill.

What To Look For When Buying

You would think an alarm clock was an alarm clock, but when you’re bringing in extra technologies like this, there are a few factors to consider. Before we look at what we feel are the six best ones, we’re going to review some of these factors, and I’d like to share a little personal experience with these as well.

  • Design – This is going to be a visible component in the room where it resides. So, you will want it to not look ridiculous or obtrusive if possible. Pick a design and form factor that you like.
  • Projection Angle Alteration – You definitely want to be able to adjust the angle of the projection, to be flush against the surface you choose. Otherwise, it can be hard to read, or awkward to place the device. I’ll have more to say on this aspect in a moment.
  • Focusing/Clarity – Similarly, because distance and ambient light in an environment both affect how sharp and solid the projection is, you’ll want to be able to adjust the brightness and focus of the projection. You’ll want a decent range with this, especially the focus aspect.
  • The Number of Alarm Buttons/Ease of Pressing – You want to have decent controls for the actual alarm clock functions. The more control you have over setting times, tuning the radio, etc. the better. Everyone remembers a clock where they had to cycle through minutes to reach a specific one, same for hours. Why such obtuse ways of setting times are still commonplace is baffling honestly.
  • Material – You want these to be solidly made. It’s easy to knock these over in a morning zombified state, or for them to be damaged during moves. Cheap plastic doesn’t cut it. Plastic is fine in and of itself, but be sure it’s a decent plastic.
  • Low Battery Indicator – I’ve made no effort to hide the fact that, unless something is portable (and then, using rechargeable mobile-style battery systems), I don’t like battery-powered devices. However, a lot of these do tend to have it at least as an option, and it does mean you don’t have to find an outlet. Be sure it can indicate when the battery is low if you depend on this device keeping you to a critical schedule.
  • Brightness Levels – We talked about this a moment ago, but it does serve well to reiterate that brightness adjustments are very helpful.
  • Size of the Radio Speaker – You want this to sound decent and be audible, and this is best served by a larger speaker.
  • Extra Features – Since this is a bit of a redundant technology (if we’re being honest), it should bring some useful extra features to the table. These may include thermometer readouts, perhaps advanced calendar stuff, some really advanced ones might even have high-resolution displays and internet capabilities.
  • Secondary Display – Projection is rarely the only display on these, and you want to think about the other, onboard display. It helps if it’s backlit, for example, and of a decent, legible size.
  • Audio In/Out – Being able to hook this into other sound systems can be helpful.

My Personal Experience With Projection Alarm Clocks

If we’re being honest, I don’t have an alarm clock these days. I don’t exercise in the morning and don’t have a daily commute that requires me to be up at a rigid time daily. This was certainly not always the case.

I always hated traditional alarms, because I am one of those people whom always felt that the morning is evil enough without being awakened by obnoxious noises. I always felt like classic rock or classical music was more pleasant.

So, I always appreciated AM/FM clock radios as a result. At one point, somewhere in the late 90s, a friend gifted me with one of the early projection models available through those Sharper Image catalogues. I’m a hard person to buy gifts for unless I’m in need of a new device because few other material things frankly interest me. So, I don’t blame him for opting for a novelty like that – and it was neat at the time.

However, these early models had problems that thankfully, have been addressed to some extent or other in newer designs. It had a problem with flicker, which drives me up a wall (and gave me migraines). It had poor focusing due to being laser-driven, and it had a horrible interface for setting times, having to cycle through 60 minutes to change an hour, and having to cycle clear through a 24-hour period to transition from AM to PM and so on.

In fact, my biggest complaint with most clock radios is the lack of military time – I personally have a little list of social norms we practice in the US that I really can’t stand: AM/PM time, daylight savings time, and the customary measurement system. A lot of these clocks still can’t do the military time. If one of these devices does Celsius temperatures and military time, that’s a thrill to me.

TOP-6 Best Projection Alarm Clocks

Below, you will find TOP-6 best project alarm clocks within the price range of $25-$30. Although most of the key features, such as LED type, focusing and angle adjustment, are present in all models of this review, there are significant differences between them. So some items lack a number of additional features, such as a calendar and FM/AM radio. The number of buttons also varies, however, you should keep in mind that more is not necessarily better. So some users complain about their alarm clocks having too many buttons, which makes the device not so easy to use. This is especially true for the moments when you wake up early in the morning and obviously experience difficulties with finding the right button to press. At any rate, whatever your preferences are, you will certainly find beneficial information in this review.

Standard Projection Alarm Clock | Electrohome

Standard Projection Alarm Clock: photo

This is a standard example of a modern projection alarm clock with AM/FM radio. It features a large backlit white on the blue LED display, an average speaker size, and uses a lens-LED projection system with decent focusing options.

Features

  • Onboard Display: Backlit LED (blue and white).
  • Buttons: 4, each with two modes.
  • Calendar: Yes.
  • AM/FM: Yes.
  • Projection Type: LED/Lens.
  • Focusing: Yes.
  • Angle Adjustment: Yes.
  • Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
  • Audio Input: 3.5mm.

Performance

This is a very standard implementation of this technology. I’m not wild about the blue and white for the onboard display, but aside from that, it’s perfectly fine. It’s a bit of a pain to set, due to the limited buttons, though.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Adjustable projection. 
  • Celsius and Fahrenheit. 
  • Calendar and temperature display. 
  • AM/FM and dual alarm.
  • Ugly onboard display.
  • Too few buttons. 
  • Feels slightly flimsy.

Conclusion 

If you just want basic features and projection, this is a pretty standard implementation I am comfortable recommending.

Standard Electrohome: Check the current price

User-Friendly Projection Alarm Clock | Electrohome

User-Friendly Projection Alarm Clock: photo

Similar to the last one in all but two critical areas, I actually like this one a good bit more. It has a better if simpler onboard display, an extra port to charge your phone, and more buttons.

Features

  • Onboard Display: Luminous LED (blue).
  • Buttons: 10.
  • Calendar: No.
  • AM/FM: Yes.
  • Projection Type: LED/Lens.
  • Focusing: Yes.
  • Angle Adjustment: Yes.
  • Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
  • Audio Input: None.

Performance

This one isn’t quite as feature rich, but I like the blue on the black readout, the additional buttons, and the more compact design.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Compact. 
  • Lots of buttons making it easier to operate. 
  • A USB port for charging other devices.
  • Fewer data to display.
  • Speaker is not amazing.

Conclusion 

If I were going to get an alarm clock today, I’d probably go with a simple solution like this. I recommend it if you just want a basic solution as I would.

User-Friendly Electrohome: Check the current price

Projection Alarm Clock With Sleek Modern Design | Mpow

Projection Alarm Clock With Sleek Modern Design: photo

This one is about as feature-rich as the previous one (sans the radio), but the curved onboard display and large numbers make it something of a modern work of art. It looks pretty neat.

Features

  • Onboard Display: Luminous LED (blue).
  • Buttons: Unknown.
  • Calendar: No.
  • AM/FM: No.
  • Projection Type: LED/Lens.
  • Focusing: Yes.
  • Angle Adjustment: Yes.
  • Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
  • Audio Input: None.

Performance

It only produces a blaring sound for an alarm due to no AM/FM, but everything else about this one is really neat, and it has a slick, modern look I’ve never seen before.

Pros Cons
  • Attractive.
  • Big numbers. 
  • Simple. 
  • Affordable.
  • No AM/FM radio.

Conclusion 

If you just want a digital alarm clock with projection, this slick, modern design is worth a look. I’d recommend it.

Mpow: Check the current price

Projection Alarm Clock With An Ultra-Large White LED Display | Mesqool

Mesqool Projection Alarm Clock: photo

This is a more compact take on the previous Mesqool model, with white LED (something you don’t see every day). If you liked it but didn’t like the blue onboard LED, consider this alternative.

Features

  • Onboard Display: Luminous LED (white).
  • Buttons: 10.
  • Calendar: No.
  • AM/FM: Yes.
  • Projection Type: LED/Lens.
  • Focusing: Yes.
  • Angle Adjustment: Yes.
  • Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
  • Audio Input: None.

Performance

If you liked the other Mesqool’s features but wanted something with a brighter onboard display, and a more traditional boxy alarm clock look, then this might be the model for you.

Pros Cons
  • Simple.
  • Affordable. 
  • Easy to use.
  • Dated look.

Conclusion 

I recommend this to people who want modern features but want the device to resemble their perception of a clock radio (boxy and simple).

Mesqool: Check the current price

Color LCD Projection Alarm Clock | La Crosse Technology

La Crosse Technology Color LCD Projection Alarm Clock: photo

This one keeps time with the atomic clock in Colorado, and offers a lot of advanced data with big numbers. The color can also be adjusted.

Features

  • Onboard Display: Luminous LED (adjustable).
  • Buttons: Unknown.
  • Calendar: Yes.
  • AM/FM: No.
  • Projection Type: LED/Lens.
  • Focusing: Yes.
  • Angle Adjustment: Yes.
  • Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
  • Audio Input: None.

Performance

Interested in accurate time and weather data, but not interested in radio functionality? This one is made with those goals in mind.

Pros Cons
  • Accurate time.
  • Extra data. 
  • Lots of adjustabilities.
  • No radio.

Conclusion 

If you like a simple projection clock, but want extra data and accuracy, this is definitely the choice for you. 

La Crosse Technology: Check the current price

Simple Alarm Clock With More Data | Ambient Weather

Simple Alarm Clock With More Data: photo

If you like the lacrosse, but want more buttons and a simpler onboard display, consider this ambient weather model.

Features

  • Onboard Display: Backlit LCD (black on amber).
  • Buttons: 5.
  • Calendar: Yes.
  • AM/FM: No.
  • Projection Type: LED/Lens.
  • Focusing: Yes.
  • Angle Adjustment: Yes.
  • Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
  • Audio Input: None.

Performance

If you like the lacrosse, but want something a bit more basic yet easy to use, this Ambient Weather unit will probably suit you well. The accuracy of radio-controlled time is actually helpful for those on strict schedules.

Pros Cons
  • Accurate time.
  • Extra data. 
  • Lots of adjustabilities.
  • No radio.
  • Single-shade LCD display. Ew.

Conclusion 

I recommend this to people who like the Lacrosse model, but feel it’s a bit overwrought.

Ambient Weather: Check the current price

Comparative Chart of Projection Clock Effectiveness

Product Features

Standard Electrohome

Backlit LED display (blue and white), 4 buttons, each with two modes, calendar, AM/FM radio.
Projection Type is LED/Lens with focusing and angle adjustment.
Power: Wall power w/ battery backup. 3.5-mm audio input.
Effectiveness: 10

User-Friendly Electrohome

Luminous LED (blue) display, 10 buttons, AM/FM radio.
Projection Type is LED/Lens with focusing and angle adjustment.
Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
Effectiveness: 10

Mpow

Luminous LED (blue) display 
Projection Type is LED/Lens with focusing and angle adjustment.
Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
Effectiveness: 8

Mesqool

Luminous LED (white), 10 buttons, AM/FM radio.
Projection Type is LED/Lens with focusing and angle adjustment.
Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
Effectiveness: 10

La Crosse Technology

Luminous LED (adjustable) display, calendar
Projection Type is LED/Lens with focusing and angle adjustment.
Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
Effectiveness: 9

Ambient Weather

Backlit LCD (black on amber) display, 5 buttons, calendar
Projection Type is LED/Lens with focusing and angle adjustment.
Power: Wall power w/ battery backup.
Effectiveness: 9

F.A.Q

How to set a projection alarm clock?
This varies wildly from clock to clock.

Can the ceiling display include the temperature, or only the time?
Some display the temperature too.

What models are recommended for kids? Does Dr. Who projection alarm clock work well?
Really, any of them work fine. The Dr. Who alarm is fine.

Are there devices with nature sounds?
Not that I’ve seen.

Can I use the device’s FM radio to wake up?
Yes.

Conclusion

If you need a clock radio to motivate you and want the readability and the extra nicety of projection, then one of these will serve you well. It just depends on your needs, and how important a piece of equipment this is in your lifestyle.