Ditto Vibrating Alarm and Notification Device

by Howard Samuels


Read this review to receive a discount code on Ditto!

Ditto is a small device that vibrates to provide you with alerts from your phone. It is focused on that one task, eschewing the feature creep that plagues so many consumer products.

From the manufacturer:

We created Ditto as a kind of anti-gadget – something to free people from worrying about their smartphones and to be more present in life. Ditto is tiny and elegant. No buttons, switches, lights displays, or cables. Less is more.

Ditto vibrates when you get an incoming phone call, a text, an email, or a notification from a large and growing portfolio of third-party apps.  You don’t have to be inundated with constant vibrations, however.  You can choose which apps will cause the Ditto to vibrate, and you can also select important people from your list of contacts, or allow alerts from anybody.

Straying ever so slightly from the ‘simple is better’ mantra, Ditto can also alert you when you are far away from your phone.  This is helpful if you are prone to leaving your phone behind – Ditto will vibrate before you get too far away. The distance varies, but it is basically the range of the Bluetooth connection.

For cochlear implant HELP readers, perhaps the most important function is Ditto’s ability to vibrate at a preset time – it’s an alarm clock!  Rather than large and expensive bed shakers or flashing lights, you can clip Ditto to your sleepwear, or wear it on the included wristband.  My preference is to use the wristband because I can leave it on all day and all night. Ditto is waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower.  The included thin and durable neoprene wristband looks great, but it does tend to stay wet for quite a while. And because it vibrates on your wrist, it won’t wake up your partner.


To set an alarm, go to the Alarm screen, choose one of the alarms to set, and set the time of day.  You can assign a name to the alarm to be displayed on your phone when the alarm occurs.  This can be helpful if you have set several different alarms and need to know which one is begging for your attention. The alarm can be set to vibrate its pattern one time, or it can repeat every two minutes for ten minutes, or until you turn it off.

Once an alarm has rung, it stays off unless you enable it again in the Ditto app.  A recurrence feature would be helpful, so that you could set the alarm to wake you on the days you work each week without having to remember to set the alarm each night.

The Ditto web site has some short instructional videos to show you how to set up Ditto, attach it to the wristband, change the batteries, etc.  The videos are available from within the Ditto app as well.

Ditto uses a single CR1632 button cell disposable battery, which lasts 3-6 months.  When the battery gets low, you receive a notification to change the battery soon. The CR1632 battery generally isn’t sold in local pharmacies, but it is readily available from Amazon and other online sources.

Ditto is far more convenient and portable than traditional alarms targeted at the deaf and hard of hearing market.  Because it is a high-volume consumer product, it costs much less than dedicated wakeup systems.  And its main purpose of notifying you when you receive phone calls, texts, etc, is very useful. Ditto is a cost-effective alternative to a smart watch if the only goal is to receive notifications from your phone. Two additional features would make it a perfect fit – recurring alarms, and a wristband that dries more quickly.

Cochlear implant HELP reader can enjoy a 20% discount until October 31st, 2016, by using discount code cochlear20!

Two Ditto devices were provided by Simple Matters for the purpose of this review.

Mi Band – Inexpensive Vibrating Alarm and More

By Howard Samuels

mi-bandThe new Mi Band by Xiaomi, manufacturers of ridiculously inexpensive smart phones in China, makes a great vibrating wristband alarm clock. While its main function is as a fitness band similar to a Fitbit Flex or a Nike+ FuelBand SE, the Mi Band barely makes a dent in your wallet at $15 complete with charging cable.  In comparison, other fitness bands start at about $100.

The Mi Band requires an iOS or Android phone.  Install the free Mi Band app, and set up an account with Xiaomi.  Several steps of the setup involve receiving a confirmation code text from Xiaomi, apparently to enforce super security on how many footsteps you take each day.

You can set an alarm to wake you up with a firm vibration once, or on any combination of days of the week.  Everyday and Weekday options are quick presets, and a customize option allows you to choose which particular days you would like the alarm to wake you. If you prefer to be awoken gently, you can set the alarm to start vibrating gently 30 minutes before your wakeup time, slowly increasing in strength.

To turn off the alarm when the band is vibrating, just tap on the metal part of the band with your finger.

Xiaomi step counter

The app can show you how many steps you’ve taken for the day. While I initially had no interest in that function, it quickly became addictive, and I’ve found myself walking a bit more each day to rack up the step count.  If you believe the marketing photos, the Mi Band is very effective at encouraging you to lose more of your body fat than is necessary.


The battery life is listed at 30 days – much longer than any of the other fitness bands.  I’ve been wearing one for two weeks, and it’s still at 72%, so I expect to get closer to two months per charge.  Charging is simple – pop the module out of the replaceable silicone wrist band, and insert it into the USB charging cable.

Mi band battery life

You can set the Mi Band to vibrate if you receive a phone call and don’t answer after a programmable amount of time.  If you don’t hear the phone ring, or if you don’t feel the vibration, the band will certainly get your attention.

With a rating of IP67, you can wear the Mi Band in the shower. The Mi Band is available now in China and a few select nearby countries.  It will be available in a country near you in the coming weeks.