Review: Kensington Nightstand
August 5, 2009 by Beatweek
New in iProng Labs: a hands-on review of the unique combination of the about-to-be-released $39 Nightstand charger and free Rise&Shine app from Kensington, designed to turn your iPhone or iPod touch into a bedside alarm clock…
review by Bill Palmer
This one’s a fun idea whose time has arrived. These days so many of us are using our iPhone as an alarm clock that it only makes sense to have an app like “Rise&Shine” that displays the time in big block numbers like a traditional bedside alarm clock would. That this app is free and comes from a hardware company like Kensington gives away the fact that they’re hoping the app will entice you to buy their new $39 Nightstand charging dock (currently available for pre-order), which can your iPhone or iPod touch standing up sideways so it’s oriented like a true alarm clock.
The app does more than that, also displaying the local weather forecast so you know what you’re in for when you wake up, along with tweaks that allow the time to be displayed in ways that resemble early digital or even flip-style alarm clock displays. Swipe across the screen to turn the dimmer on or off (or precisely adjust the brightness in the info panel). The color of the numbers is even changeable. It’s all good fun, but when you go into the Clock app to set the alarm like usual and then back to the Rise&Shine app to set it up for the night, those of us who are paranoid about such things will quickly realize that unlike with the home screen of the iPhone, the Rise&Shine app does not tell you whether the alarm is actually set – wreaking havoc on those of us who wake twice a night to make sure we’ve actually set the alarm (something that can potentially be fixed via a future update to the app itself).
That glitch aside, this is a cleverly simple product. The flipside is that if you’re not going to use it in the suggested method (turning it into a faux-alarm clock each night with the app), it’s not nearly as recommendable for other uses. At $39 it’s too expensive to be just a bedside charger. And if you try to use it as a desktop docking station during the day, you’ll quickly find that it’s not all that stable when placed vertically due to its narrow base (it’s much more stable horizontally), and the iPhone isn’t at enough of an angle to be easily read while you’re sitting at your desk glancing down at its screen.
That having been said, if you plan to actually use the Nightstand in the manner Kensington hopes you will, it can come in quite handy – especially when traveling.
Rise&Shine app is now available for free in the App Store