Do You Need a Bluetooth Desk Clock?

by Barrett

You’re probably wondering, “What’s a Bluetooth clock?” Heck, I’m sure some of you are asking why would anyone even need a clock on a desk anymore. But hold on… The trick is this clock can connect to your smartphone…

You’re probably wondering, “What’s a Bluetooth clock?” Heck, I’m sure some of you are asking why would anyone even need a clock on a desk anymore. But hold on… The trick is this clock can connect to your smartphone…

I didn’t realize it, but clocks are an endangered species. To be more specific… desk clocks with digital displays have just about disappeared.

“Poppycock,” you say?

Take a look around… the time is proudly displayed everywhere.
(So where’s the conspiracy?)

Clocks are engineered into all of your tech… on your smartphone… your computer… your DVR…your stove… your car… and of course, on your watch.

And even on your cable set top box.

But time keeping as a singular function in a little box that sits on your desk or shelf doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe there’s no market for it, because that functionality is already baked into just about everything else you own.

The one exception is a clock with the old-time hands. There are still plenty of those around. Unfortunately, I usually want to know exactly what time it is, and a digital readout is more precise.

I Don’t Know What Time It Is
Remember that cable box I returned…?
(Argh….)

You’ll recall the one feature I’ve been missing from that silly box isn’t the TV programming… It’s the network-controlled digital time display!
(That bleeping clock!)

Without that constant glow of numbers, nobody knows what time it is in my home office anymore.

When you walk in, it’s like a time bubble. And that’s not so great when you’re rushing to get dressed in the morning and trying to catch the next train into the city.

So I decided it was time to buy a simple replacement clock for my office.
How hard could that be…?

Would you believe… impossible?

They Don’t Make Clocks Anymore
Sure, there are plenty of radio-controlled atomic clocks out there, which will supposedly stay in step down to the second.
(As long as they can sense that low-frequency signal from
NIST Radio Station WWVB)

The problem is these clocks’ displays are cluttered with so many other readouts… day… date… hygrometer… and temperature.

I don’t want all of that!

If you’re looking for an unobtrusive atomic clock with a digital readout that only shows the time…. I challenge you to find one!

So now what?

Near Miss
Well, I loosened up my criteria a bit.

I figured maybe I could give up the atomic piece and reset the clock every so often if I could locate the right form factor.

I came close with this Marathon LED clock for $39.95 on Amazon.
It’s technically an alarm clock, but happily, it just shows the time and not the alarm setting. Its bright display is simple and clear, and the clock’s form is sleek.

The only problem is reviewers have complained about the blinking colon between the numbers. And as I planned to place my replacement clock near my little office HDTV, I think that would also be an annoyance for me.

Pass.

Hello, Marathon!
The good news is Marathon makes plenty of other digital display clocks!

  • Some are atomic.
  • Some aren’t.
  • And others are…

…Bluetooth.

What?

Yes, Bluetooth-controlled.

The trick is you can pair these clocks with a companion app on your smartphone to sync the time and other functions via Bluetooth.

Huh.
That sounds pretty cool.

The only downside is these Bluetooth models also display the day and date, which I was trying to avoid.

Sticker Shock
There’s another downside… price. These Bluetooth clocks ranges from $80-$125 on Marathon’s website.

The good news is Amazon has it for less. A lot less…

I zeroed in on the $100 Marathon CL800001GH Bluetooth Panoramic Clock System in brushed graphic… for $49.95 on Amazon.

My iPhone could keep it in perfect step, and my time woes would be over.

I know… Fifty bucks is still a pretty penny to pay for a simple clock that sits in your office. I’m sure most of you would save the Ulysses S. Grant and suggest I just grow up and put my watch on.

Yeah.
(sigh)

Please don’t judge….

Click.

More than a Clock
The package arrived swiftly via Amazon Prime, and I eagerly opened it up.
What did I find…?

Well, first off, the ‘panoramic’ model I bought was a little large for my needs.
It’s fine, but bigger than I expected.
(6”x 9”)

The Marathon Watch Company does make a smaller version for $39.95.
(But I wasn’t as keen on this ‘tabletop’ model, because it looks more like an alarm clock with white and orange bars on top.)

My sleeker panoramic model is technically a ‘wall clock,’ though I didn’t know that until I discovered that detail on the box when it showed up.

All this said, my model works well enough as a desk clock, because it also sports a handy kickstand.

I skimmed the instructions, which reviewed the special sauce that the “Bluetooth Smart” technology provides…

  • Multiple alarms
  • Countdown timer
  • Temperature and humidity with historical chart on the app
  • Battery status
    (No, the clock doesn’t plug into an outlet.)

But the main attraction:
“Auto time synchronization with your mobile network through your mobile device”

The Magic of a Bluetooth Clock
First, you’ve got to download the Marathon Clock app for your smartphone or iPad:

The name of the app in the Apple App Store or Google Play is “Clock System.” (That’s actually not in the instructions.)
I figured it out by going to marathonbluetooth.com…
(Which the instructions do tell you to visit.)

Then, I paired the clock to my iPhone just like you do with any Bluetooth device.
(There’s a Bluetooth button on the back of the clock to press.)
Marathon iOS Clock System App

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s it.

Bingo… The precise time from my mobile network popped onto the clock.

Sweet!

So whenever my iPhone comes within range… Sync!
Well…not quite.

Yes, the Bluetooth automatically connects, but after a few trial runs, it looks like you’ve got to navigate into the app for the syncing process to begin.
Marathon iOS App Time Syncing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not terrible.

The Verdict
A few other thoughts…

-There’s no backlight for the clock’s display. So optimally, you should position the clock where another light source can reflect off of it.

-This Marathon also has a blinking colon between the numbers, but because of the clock’s size, I didn’t end up placing it near my TV.
(So problem solved there)

-The countdown timer is really interesting…
Marathon iOS App Countdown Timer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It might have some future application when it comes to managing how much time is left for my son’s ‘screen-time’ activities.

-I’ve got to say the temperature and humidity tracker on the app is the niftiest feature, although I’m not sure why I’d need to chart my home office’s comfort index.
Marathon iOS App Tracking Temperature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Ultimately, it’s okay that the clock’s screen has a minor reference to the date and day of week.
(While I usually know what day it is, I sometimes have to check the date… So having it there is kind of helpful.)

Do You Really Need One of These?
Yes, fifty bucks is still a little steep for a digital clock.
(I imagine you can find a stripped-down cousin on the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.)

But this Marathon clock certainly has lots of tricks up its sleeve.
(Not that I was specifically looking for most of them.)

And it does sync to network time.
(That’s really cool… admittedly in a geeky sort of way.)

Happily, I’ve popped my home office’s time bubble.
(I’m finally free to move forward in this dimension’s timeline.)

Tick tock.

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