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I am not a morning person. The daily transition from horizontal to vertical is usually accomplished by sheer force of will, and I have grown to despise the obnoxious electronic beep my alarm clock emits when it’s time to wake up. Well, at least that’s how I used to feel. Since I’ve been using the Sleeptracker Elite, waking up has been significantly easier -- and I feel better overall. Not bad for something as simple as a digital watch.
Though it may look like a relic from 1983, the Sleeptracker is a bit of a modern marvel. It works on the premise that as you sleep, there are certain points in your sleep cycle that are easier to wake from than others. A traditional alarm jolts you to consciousness at the same time every day -- well, like clockwork. But Sleeptracker allows you to set an alarm “window” and tries to wake you at an optimal time. An onboard accelerometer tracks your movements through the night, and the alarm goes off in the morning when you’re tossing and turning, which is, unsurprisingly, when you’re in the least-deep phase of sleep.
In several weeks of testing, the Sleeptracker was a rousing success when it came to waking me up. Using the included software, I could track my periods of deep sleep and record factors that may have contributed to particularly successful (or unsuccessful) slumbers. Analyzing the data over time helped identify conditions for optimal rest. But ultimately, the data isn’t all that illuminative because the software doesn’t offer tools to slice and dice data in useful ways -- and it didn’t yet run under Lion when we tested it.
To download data, you’ll have to connect the watch to your Mac via a non-standard cable. Disappointingly, the Sleeptracker only stores one night’s data, so you’ll have to hook it up every day. At 179 bucks, we’d expect Sleeptracker to offer more memory -- not to mention other digital conveniences. It lacks tons of features that other digital watches offer for less than a tenth of the price. There’s only one alarm, and no stopwatch or timer functions. The crystal scratches easily, and the alarm snooze only works if you’ve been woken up early in your designated window. If it goes off at the set time, snoozing the alarm will turn it off, but it won’t sound again -- which can have a catastrophic effect on your ability to get anywhere on time.
The bottom line. Sleeptracker can definitely help you wake up feeling more rested than a standard alarm clock, but the device is hampered by limited features and aesthetics straight from a time machine.
Mac OS 10.6, USB port
Wakes you up when you’re more likely to feel refreshed. Vibrating or beeping alarm. Syncs to your Mac for stats analysis.
Looks ugly and cheap. Limited memory forces you to sync every day, or lose data. Crystal scratches easily. Quirky snooze feature makes it easy to oversleep. No second alarm, stopwatch, or other common digital watch features. Software incompatible with Mac OS 10.7 at press time.