The gloomy weather in January and February can make it very hard to get up in the mornings, and that's where this dawn-simulator from DAB specialist Pure comes in. The Twilight might sound like a tedious, vampire-based novel for teenagers, but it's actually a DAB and FM radio alarm clock that's also equipped with a touch-sensitive energy-efficient lamp. We first set eyes on the Twilight at a preview a couple of months ago, and we've been looking forward to getting it in for a review ever since.
The distinctive device sports a rounded, arched shape, with the frosted lamp making up the majority of the unit. Measuring 360 x 180 x 120mm, the Twilight isn't exactly tiny and it's unlikely that you'll to fit much else on your bedside table with it. However, the solid build and 1.65kg weight mean that it feels sturdy and durable.
The lamp's six LEDs use just 5.4W, compared to the 45W used by an equivalent incandescent bulb, so its a good choice for those that are concerned about their carbon footprint. The Twilight is also part of Pure's EcoPlus range meaning that its green crendentials include reduced power consumption, minimum packaging size, and the use of materials from recycled and sustainable sources.
The flexible lamp offers a considerable range of lighting options including dawn simulation, a glowing nightlight and coloured mood lighting. A compact LED screen is housed in the centre of the unit, underneath the lamp and beneath it are four touch senstive buttons to navigate around the on-screen menus, making operation very simple indeed. On the left-hand side of the screen are large silver buttons for adjusting the volume, along with smaller black buttons for activating preset alarms, changing the source or selecting the sleep mode. To the right of the display, you'll find large silver buttons for scrolling between options on the screen, along with a select button. Next to these are buttons for the Daylight and Mood settings on the lamp, along with the power switch.
The touch-senstive Daylight lamp has been designed so that it can be turned on or off with one touch, while the brightness can be increased or decreased by keeping your hand on the surface until the light reaches the desired level. The brightness levels runs from 0 right up to an eye-blistering (not literally) 100. We're not entirely sure that the highest brightness level needs to be quite that high as it's far too bright to be used as a reading lamp, but it'll certainly wake you up. We found the touch-sensitivity of the lamp to be a little temperamental - sometimes it responded to one touch and switched on or off, but sometimes it didn't, although it seemed to work better when touched with the palm of the hand, rather than a just a digit or two.
The general idea is that you set the lamp to come on before your alarm goes off so that you're woken up gradually and gently. You can choose the amount of time that it takes for the lamp to reach full brightness. You can "snooze" the alarm either by touching the top of the lamp or by tapping the snooze button - with the alarm sounding again after 9 minutes. There are four independent alarms so that you can set separate alarms for weekdays and weekends, waking to a tone, digital or FM radio or natural sounds (along with the lamp, or course). You can also use the sleep timer to set the lamp to turn off gradually when you go to bed.
The selection of pre-programmed colour sequences comprises ocean, fire, wheat field, party and Rainbow. The Fire mode might sound slightly alarming, but it's actually desinged to recreate the flickering of a fireplace, rather than something that the emergency services need to get involved in. The ocean option is a blend of greens and blues, wheat field offers yellows and greens and the rainbow option runs though the entire colour gamut. The Party mode is similar to a mobile disco, perhaps not something that you need on your clock radio, but it's always nice to have the option. There's also room to programme in three presets of your own if none of the mood options on offer float your boat.
The fact that the lamp can be used as a nightlight means that it's ideal for kids as well, and there's even a selection of lullabies to choose from. The Twilight also offers Pure Sounds - a selection of continuous sound effects to help you to drift off to sleep, wake you up in the morning or simply to relax during the day. You can choose from babbling brook, crackling fire, ocean ambience, wind chimes, forest ambience, lapping waves, dawn chorus, cicadas (an insect sound), cockerel, church bells and our personal favourite - rain with thunder and lightning. There's also a retro alarm and a digital alarm tone to choose from.
When it comes to the radio, you can programme in up to 30 presets for easy access to your favourite stations (both DAB and FM). In terms of audio, the Twilight is equipped with 2 x 2.5-inch full range drive units, offering a total power output of 5W. This means that the unit offers a pretty strong sound for a radio alarm clock, and manages to avoid the low-quality, tinny sonics offered by some cheaper competitors.
On the rear of the radio you'll find connections for the power supply and headphones as well as an auxilliary input for hooking up iPods and MP3 players. There's also a Mini-USB for software updates, along with a Pure PowerPort - a USB socket for connecting compatible devices such as mobile phone chargers and USB fans. Unfortunately it doesn't offer enough juice to power anything with more than 500mA of current - so you won't be able to use it to charge your iPad or iPhone, for example.
Overall, the Twilight is a pretty cool product with a slick and distinctive design. The £130 may be a stumbling block if all you want is a DAB alarm clock, but the Twilight offers a substantial selection of nifty features. The flexibility offered by the lamp is a big plus point, as is the large selection of built-in sound effects and customisable alarm options. Add to that the DAB (and FM) radio and eco-friendly credentials, along with the kid-friendly options such as the nightlight and lullabies and you've got yourself one hell of an all-rounder. If you're finding it hard to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, then this SAD-busting radio is a fine choice.