Reviews

Wake-up Club Review

Wake-up Club is a social alarm clock. In this review, I’ll define what on earth that means, and whether or not this alarm is worth your time.

Ted Polak
610

Wake-up Club is a social alarm clock for the Playstation Vita. That is a mouthful, because a social alarm clock is a foreign concept to the entire human race. I will give credit to Sony for legitimately innovating on the very concept of the alarm clock, and coming out with something that is compelling. However, technical limitations end up marring what could be a great experience.

Social alarm clock?

Wake-up Club is a free download from the PSN store on the Vita, and doesn’t take up very much space. When you first open it, you are presented with a fairly Spartan home screen. You can set or modify alarms, go to a settings screen, and check statistics. You can select from a variety of backgrounds for your home screen; I use a Gravity Rush theme.

Setting an alarm is simple enough; you set what time you want to wake up, and what days of the week that alarm should be active on. You can set an alarm tone of your choice from the predetermined list, but you cannot use your own custom alarm tone. I personally find that the loudest alarm volume setting, along with the volume on the system all the way up, is too quiet for my tastes. However, there is one other setting, and it is the crux of this application: Whether this is a normal alarm or a Wake-up club alarm.

Wake-up club alarms require an active connection to the Playstation Network because they are social. You and 11 other people that have the same alarm time will be put into a group. When your alarm goes off, you wake up like normal. Then, you see whether or not the other 11 members of your group have woken up. You can encourage sleepyheads to wake up by tapping their avatars. Doing so sends them “encouragement” to wake up, which is transmitted in the form of some kind of annoying audio chirp. You can send encouragement as fast as your finger can slap the screen. The Wake-up club is successful when everyone wakes up, but it fails if at least one person remains snoozing 5 minutes after the alarm rings.Wake-up Club

The hook

So what’s the point of Wake-up Club? There’s something neat about working together to get everyone out of bed, and I don’t think anything like this has ever existed before, but is there anything more? The answer is yes: there’s Trophies. This is an alarm clock… with Trophies. On my first use of the app, I got a bronze trophy for waking up successfully, a second bronze for being the first in my group to wake up, and a gold trophy because our club was successful.

Weaknesses

The app suffers from two major flaws. I want to reiterate the lack of volume on the alarm. Unless you use external speakers or headphones, this will not wake you up. I have to use my phone’s alarm to get up in the morning. This is probably due to the limits of the Vita’s external speakers. However there is what I consider to be a much bigger problem.

If you do not leave Wake-up Club as the active app on the Vita, that is, if you leave a different app open, or you go to the Vita’s home screen, the alarm will simply not work. The Vita can be in Standby mode, but the last active app has to be Wake-up Club. This means I have to have the presence of mind to turn on Wake-up Club before I go to bed, and leave it on that screen. While Wake-up Club is a “small app”, which means it can run while you have a game in standby mode without interrupting it, the very fact that I have to remember to “set my Vita to alarm clock mode” goes against what I am used to in my life. My phone has an alarm clock. As long as my phone is on, it will go off at the time I set it to. Sadly, this likely isn’t the app’s fault, but more of a flaw in the nature of the Vita itself. Nevertheless, I have to judge the app based on what it is capable of doing.

Oh, and there’s a Trophy for waking up less three seconds after the alarm goes off. No matter how fast I press the screen to wake up, I can’t get my time under three seconds, and I’ve tried doing this several times in a row, even with my Vita in active (not Standby) mode.Wake-up Club Statistics

THINGS WE LIKED A LOT

  • The concept is legitimately novel
  • The execution of it feels whimsical and cute at times

THINGS THAT NEED IMPROVEMENT

  • Alarms just aren’t loud enough
  • Will only function if left as active app in Standby mode

6/10

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  • Martin Brentnall

    I downloaded Wake-up Club last night, as it just released yesterday in Europe. Whilst I agree with most of this review, I’d like to share my own thoughts:

    First, the volume was actually too loud for me on the highest setting. I set the application volume to “High” and turned up the hardware volume to maximum using the buttons on the top of the Vita (you must do both to achieve maximum possible volume).

    I normally wake up to a phone playing classical music that ramps up volume gradually, so the Wake-up Club was quite harsh in comparison for my personal taste. Of course, the limited choice of tones doesn’t really help either and I’m disappointed that I can’t wake up to something from Journey, since I half-expect this after seeing the theme. This would have been ideal for me.

    Secondly, I believe this does work when the system has been completely powered off, at least with regular alarms, but I will definitely need to verify this.

    After waking up with a Wake-up Club alarm at 06:30 this morning, I believe that I powered off my Vita to prevent the second regular alarm at 06:35 from sounding. Despite this, an alarm sounded five minutes later anyway, although it was only the basic watch beep tone instead of the chosen musical tone.

    As I said though, I had just woken up, so I may have been mistaken about powering off and which tone was selected for the regular alarm, so I will need to verify this to be sure.

  • http://www.gamerhorizon.com/ Alex Inigo

    Ted and I were talking about this a couple of days ago and there was news that there’s a bug in the game where if you wake up during Standby mode, you will always be 1st place and everyone around you will have woken up. Is this true for the UK so far? I’m curious.

  • http://www.gamerhorizon.com/ Ted Polak

    If the system is powered off, Wake Up Club doesn’t work. If Wake Up Club wasn’t an active application when the Vita goes to standby, Wake Up Club doesn’t work. Also, the bugs present make it so that the very premise of the app DOESN’T WORK. I just learned about these bugs in the past couple of days.

  • http://twitter.com/Erroneus Erroneus

    Maybe.

    I just woke up using this app and I did it in 12 seconds and when I entered the app, it looked like I was last, but according to the rankings I was first. Now there is a chance I actually was first and my Vita was just slow to get into the app with the other avatars, because it counts from when you presses your own big avatar.

    The app it self I find awesome, have no problem with sound-levels, use one of the digital alarms, it’s crazy loud. And the use of the app is easy enough for me, the only thing you have to realize, is yes, that you have to leave the app open when going to sleep. But it does say that and I don’t see any problem with this.

  • http://www.gamerhorizon.com/ Alex Inigo

    Now I’ve only played with it once, but it’d be nice to have a way to find out who the members of your most recent WakeUp Club is. That way I can actually ask whether or not I was really truly in 1st place haha

  • Chapster1

    It’s worth noting that the time it takes to wake up depends on you wifi signal aswell.

    Upstairs I can’t wake up in less than 3 seconds. However, when I’m closer to my router it’s easy.