Nightstand Central for iPad is an excellent way to get rid of an alarm clock and replace it with none other than your nice big iPad screen. Adjustable settings, flexibility in common alarm clock functionality like music, snoozes, and schedules make this the top alarm clock option for all of your wake up needs.
Main points of display include the time (with or without seconds), your current location or a location of your choice, the date, and the current temperature as well as the day’s high and low. Additionally, a graphic of the sun or moon will show depending if it is day or night with added accents to match the weather (ie. Clouds for cloudy, rain for rainy, etc). A background image of your choice either from your photo album or built in backdrops are available. Multiple backgrounds can be chosen and put on rotation. The panel showing the display elements is able to be positioned and sized. I like having mine take up most of the screen.
A sounding alarm will present two large buttons to turn off the alarm or snooze. I love this as it presents an easy target for my sleep fingers.
A small i circled on the bottom right corner of the screen will bring up the settings page when pressed. From here you have a slew of options. The alarms option is naturally first and allows you to enter multiple alarms on multiple schedules with independent wake up settings. Next up is the Lullaby setting which will play either a sound effect or your music of choice (from your iPod music selection) for a selected amount of time. Third on the list are the Weather options. You can choose to enable or disable the weather, choose the location for which it is presented, choose the unit of measure (Fahrenheit or Celsius), and an update interval of either 30 or 60 minutes. To change the Time, the app will tell you to go to your iPad settings.
Advanced settings are available to auto-lock the screen on different times based on whether the iPad is plugged in or not. From here you can also choose the background alarm sound which is limited to 5 system alarms of no longer than 30 seconds due to iOS restrictions. This is the alarm should the iPad lock. Otherwise, your selected wake up delivery music/sounds will play. The next option allows you to select 1 or multiple wallpapers from both preloaded packages and your iPad Photo Album and change it on a time interval from 5 seconds to a day.
The next section of the Settings allows you to position and size the information panel. This will overlay or reveal your background while making your clock and weather information smaller or bigger. A couple toggles ask if you want to see 24 hour time, hide the seconds, show the next alarm.
A couple built in gestures make this app even that much more useful. Sliding a finger up or down will make the screen more or less bright. This is good for dimming the screen down to where you can still sleep in a dark room. Shaking the device will snooze the alarm, though this is less useful for the iPad and more-so for the iPhone.
While there are some notions that keeping a $500-$830 device’s screen on overnight, every night is less than smart – I believe given that the device operates on an LCD and not plasma or CRT display, there are no issues with burn in or anything of the sort. If the app is on the lowest brightness setting (which is lower than the iOS brightness will go), I do not believe prolonged use will have a negative effect on the screen, though I cannot say this with certainty. I used this app every night for about 8 months with my iPad 2 before selling it for the new iPad and never had an issue with the screen. It goes without saying that you will want to have the device plugged in all night so as not to drain the battery. The battery will remain fully charged. Finally, you will need some kind of stand – the app operated in both the landscape and portrait mode. While the app makers would love to have the alarm turn your screen on to the app at your desired alarm time – therefore not forcing you to keep it on all night, iOS currently limits that functionality. Because of this, I give the app an 8/10.
Nightstand Central is available for $2.99 from the App Store.