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What is a Digital Timer?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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A digital timer is a small, battery operated device that digitally counts down minutes for accurate timing. It can sometimes be much handier than using a traditional clock.

Analog clocks normally have one position setting for an alarm and most are not highly portable. A digital timer can be small and light enough to slip into a pocket. After you enter the desired time value, the timer will beep, or in some cases vibrate, at the lapse of the set time period. Moreover, a digital timer can be set to immediately restart the countdown and repeat the alarm function at regular intervals.

Digital timers have an infinite array of applications. Circuit training, for example, involves working out different muscle groups for set periods of time. Cyclists time and alternate periods of high and low exertion. Coaches time warm-ups, practices and workouts on varying skill sets.

But a digital timer isn't just for sports. Mothers with new babies can find several uses, from warming milk to sneaking in a much-needed nap while baby is sleeping. With a digital timer in pocket, you can wake to a soft beep in 20 or 30 minutes without risking over sleeping, and you can nap wherever comfortable. It can also be a reminder to check on the baby, put on dinner, or call the sitter. Keeping a digital timer in pocket is like having a personal alert assistant.

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With the hectic schedules most people keep, it's easy to forget to return a phone call, pick up dinner on the way home, or catch that show you meant to watch. With a digital timer, a timely beep is all you'll need to remind yourself. A digital timer can also be used as a reminder to take medications or check blood sugar.

And don't forget your digital timer while traveling, whether it's business or pleasure. Changing time zones and disrupted sleeping patterns often lead to getting off schedule or losing track of time. Your digital timer can keep you on schedule by letting you know when it's time to get up, to get ready for that engagement, or to move on to your next appointment or activity. And you can carry it with you all day long!

When purchasing a digital timer, look for the features you require. Some models incorporate a clock while others only display the countdown time. Also, the maximum countdown time indicates how far in advance an alarm can be set. Some models have a maximum countdown of up to 100 hours or more, allowing alarms to be set days in advance. This may be unnecessary, depending on your needs.

Another feature to consider is the number of independent alarms that can be set at once. Do you require only one alarm setting, or more? Some models allow up to four independent alarm settings to be used simultaneously. For example, a timer might be set to go off in 10 minutes, followed by another alarm in 45 minutes, then one in 12 hours, and a final beep 20 minutes from there. This can be accomplished with a "single-channel" digital timer by setting each alarm manually in succession, but with two, three or four-channel timers, the alarms can all be set at once.

You can shop for a digital timer in department stores or from online vendors. They are affordable, convenient, and the kind of gadget that becomes more indispensable the longer you have it. There might even come a time when you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

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