GEAR4 Renew SleepClock Review
Having trouble in bed? Not that kind of trouble… sleep trouble. The GEAR4 Renew SleepClock is an innovative new device built to log and improve your sleep. The Gear4 Renew SleepClock has built-in technology that monitors your sleeping activity by detecting breathing and movement patterns. Sleep behavior is logged, and even improved, by use of the iPad /iPhone /iPad app. The SleepClock can also choose the best time to wake you up, based on your sleep cycle… welcome to the future!
The GEAR4 Renew SleepClock basically looks like a regular speaker dock, but unlike most, it will fit iPad. The charging connector swivels, and is more accommodating than most, meaning it will fit most iPhone cases. The SleepClock has a rounded design, and is a bit smaller than you may expect from the pictures. There’s a 3.5mm auxiliary input in the back so you can play music from any device.
Renew SleepClock is able to achieve a minimalistic external design by incorporating extra controls inside the iOS app. From the app, you can set alarms, adjust clock brightness, and tune radio stations. The clock time will automatically update to the iOS time.
The Renew SleepClock app, available for free in Apple’s App Store, is much more polished than we expected from first generation software. When you dock your device for the first time you’re prompted to download the app. The app can run in the background and doesn’t have to be visible on your iPhone/iPad to log your sleep. The interface is pretty easy to figure out. There are two alarms, which ideally are set as weekend and weekday, and this is customizable. For any alarm, you choose a period of time that you want to wake up, say 7am to 8am. You can choose to be woken up by the built-in alarms, radio, or iPod.
The built-in alarms are fantastic for a natural wake up. Every morning I wake up to chirping birds… it’s not until I’m awake that I realize it’s the SleepClock. Other wakeup chimes include garden, mellow morning, waves, rainy morning, rainforest in Australia, and folk guitar.
To use it, just position the Renew SleepClock within 1.5 meters of where you lay in bed. It should be pointed towards your chest, and it won’t matter how you lay or if you are covered in sheets. Click the button “Go To Sleep” button in the app, and SleepClock does the rest.
“How does it work? The Renew SleepClock uses a sensor to monitor micro movements, including changes in your breathing, to accurately record your sleep behaviour. The sensor works on extremely low power radiowaves that reflect off your body detecting the changes in movement while you sleep without the need for any headbands or wristbands. The radiowaves are 1000 times less than typical Bluetooth emissions and 1 million times less than the suggested safety limit. The sensor has a maximum range of 1.5m and a coverage cone of 60°.”
The SleepClock sleep stats are clean, organized, and informative. You can view it on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. There is an hourly breakdown of your sleep that can be viewed minute-by-minute; it’s graphed as awake, light sleep, or deep sleep. You can also log information about the night and how you feel in the morning, for future analysis. There is a sleep rating and a slew of great information, all of which you can share with your social networks if you so choose. If you want to run you’re own analysis, you can export the data as a CSV file.
The SleepClock has been working great for me. I’ve basically turned my sleep into a game, testing different conditions for improved sleep. I’m only a couple weeks in, so I still have much to learn. But from what I can tell, it works. It knows when I fall asleep and when I wake up in the middle of the night. The deep sleep metric is harder to gauge. Interesting, the most deep sleep I got was sleeping in after a night on the town (alcohol). However, I’m still in my discovery phase; I don’t feel more refreshed just yet, but I’m on the verge of sleep improvement. Waking up has never been an easy task for me, the natural alarm clock sounds have made waking up significantly less painful.
The app is equally as impressive as the SleepClock itself; it’s usable, informative, and clean. Surprisingly, you can remove your phone from the dock in the middle of the night, check some emails, redock and resnooze, and SleepClock still maintains an accurate sleep record. The app also does a great job of including FAQ and instructions. In the FAQ they mention that down the line they could incorporate REM sleep monitoring by simply updating the app. The only thing that’s missing in the app is an account to sync between devices and view info online, also the ability to detect an initial bed time without pushing the “Go To Sleep” Button. The only other frustration is that a night’s sleep is logged on the day you go to sleep, rather than the day you wake up. This messes up your calendar log if you sometimes go to sleep before midnight and sometimes after midnight. This can be easily fixed with an app update, as can the other issues we had.
The GEAR4 Renew SleepClock is a fantastic device which can really help you monitor and improve your sleep. The iPhone/iPod/iPad app does an amazing job at logging information, and GEAR4 can only make it better with future updates. Unfortunately, for now SleepClock will only monitor the closest person in bed, and GEAR4 only recommends one per room. The SleepClock is a little pricey, retailing for $199.99 at Apple.com, but it’s an investment. If you can improve your sleep, and overall well being, then the GEAR4 Renew Sleep Clock will pay for itself.
The Good: It Works!, Great Wake-Up Chimes, Nice Appearance, Docks all iOS Devices, App Is Polished and Intuitive
The Bad: Speakers Are Subpar, No Account to Share Between iOS Devices, Poor iPad Docking Support