Which atomic clocks are best?
The first time zone, Greenwich Mean Time, was established in the late 1600s to assist sailors before the invention of the train and railway in the mid-1800s expanded the need for a stable time. Between the two, in the late 1700s, came Benjamin Franklin, the first to propose the idea of daylight savings time as a joke.
You can thank all of these decisions and inventions for the misery of adjusting your clocks, or you can pick up a Sharp Atomic Clock with Indoor/Outdoor Temperature Display and never need to worry about setting a time again.
What to know before you buy an atomic clock
Digital vs. analog
Most atomic clocks use a digital display as it makes it much easier to adjust the time for daylight savings or to a new time zone, and they’re also cheaper.
Analog atomic clocks still exist and, for many, the visual is much more pleasing. But, even a basic analog atomic clock can cost twice as much as a basic digital atomic clock.
Size and shape
Most digital atomic clocks are rectangular or square in a roughly 1-foot x 1-foot size, give or take an inch. Some can be smaller, and others can be much wider with less height. Analog clocks are almost always round, though more artistic options might buck the trend. Analog-digital clocks hang around the 1-foot diameter range as well.
Hanging vs. standing
Regardless of the kind of clock you get, you will choose a way to display it. The two options are to hang it up on a wall or stand it up on a flat surface. Analog atomic clocks rarely include a flat surface display option, but other clocks will give you the option to either hang or stand up the clock.
What to look for in a quality atomic clock
Temperature and weather sensor
Many digital atomic clocks include an indoor temperature sensor built into the clock, while some digital atomic clocks also bundle an outdoor sensor you can place outside your home or office to get a read on the external temperature. Most outdoor sensors have limited ranges however and typically add around $20 to the cost of the atomic clock.
Digital atomic clocks generally include more information than just the time. Besides the above temperatures, digital atomic clocks tend to include both the month and day as well as the day of the week. Analog clocks rarely include any of this same information so that they preserve their old-school stylings, but a few have digital inlays. The analog atomic clocks that do include this information are the most expensive options available.
How much you can expect to spend on an atomic clock
The ease of use that atomic clocks exemplify doesn’t come cheap but that doesn’t mean it isn’t reasonable. Most entry-level atomic clocks can be found for $20-$30, while the high-end, aesthetically superior atomic clocks can cost nearly $100. Atomic clocks in general cost around $40.
Atomic clock FAQ
Can atomic clocks still be set manually or are they only automatic?
A. Yes, some atomic clocks can still be set manually, like atomic clocks that only support some time zones or are analog. The product description should have this information, but you’ll need to look closely as it isn’t a frequently desired feature.
How often does an atomic clock need its battery changed?
A. That depends on several factors like what kind of batteries an atomic clock uses, as well as its size and extra features that may require more power. It’s typically a good idea to check your atomic clock’s batteries every few months. Some atomic clocks include a low battery indicator which can save you all this hassle.
What’s the best atomic clock to buy?
Top atomic clock
What you need to know: This atomic clock is sleek and elegant. It tells the time accurately and has some top quality bonus features.
What you’ll love: It’s easy to tell the temperature of your room and the outdoors thanks to the built-in indoor sensor and wireless outdoor sensor. You can also display this atomic clock by attaching it to the wall or using the kickstand for table use.
What you should consider: The outdoor sensor needs to be within 100 feet of the main clock to transmit its readings, and the clock and sensor combined take five AA batteries to operate.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top atomic clock for the money
What you need to know: This La Crosse Technology atomic clock is nearly half the price of other options, although it doesn’t include an outdoor temperature sensor.
What you’ll love: If you don’t like the silver option, you can select black or minimalistic slate versions. You can also change the display to 12 or 24-hour settings.
What you should consider: The temperature range doesn’t go below freezing or higher than 122 degrees Fahrenheit and it does not include the 3 AA batteries required for power.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you prefer the old-school, analog-style of a clock but don’t want to worry about adjusting its time, then this minimalist atomic model is perfect for you.
What you’ll love: This atomic clock can be used in any time zone, unlike some other models. Its battery is rated to last for five years with a low power indicator to alert you when it is time for a battery change.
What you should consider: You need to manually turn on the daylight savings time mode. The atomic clock requires 4 C batteries.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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