By Kyle Allerton

While an increasing number of companies are moving towards app-based employee attendance systems, some still prefer the good old traditional time clocks.

Here we look at the 10 most popular physical employee time clocks based on the number of user ratings on Amazon.com and compared them, so you don’t have to.

1. Allied Time USA AT-4500

This electronic time clock has a customer rating of 4.4 out of 5 based on 190 ratings

What makes the Allied Time stand out is its automatic calculation feature. The clock doesn’t come with a punching button or any specific key. Employees are required to drop their time cards into the slot to get it printed.

However, it does require you to use a specific time card. 

Reasons to buy

  • Allied Time USA is a well-known and trusted brand.
  • The automatic calculation feature can come in handy and saves you the hassle of manually calculating regular and working hours.
  • The minimalist interface is combined with a no-punch set-up.

Reasons to avoid

  • It requires you to use a specific type of time card. Although a bundle may be included with the package upon purchase, you would still have to get the exact type of time cards every time you run out of them. 
  • There have been a number of complaints about the performance of the clock and its unreliability in keeping time. Some users have reported that it tends to get slow by 5-10 minutes every now and then.

Selected user comments

“What’s bad about it is that your employees have to use it perfectly for it to work, and my employees expect me to fix their time card every time they forget to clock in or out, which doesn’t work with this machine. It is not forgiving. If you don’t have a clock in and out for each day it will throw off the total time for the duration of the pay cycle, which in turn makes for a very frustrating process of trying to figure out what went wrong with the time card”

“I was using hand-written time cards initially and once I switched to this machine I was finding that my employee was “rounding” her time to the tune of 1.5-2 hours weekly! This machine is saving me money! It’s easy to set up and use. Customer service is responsive and accommodating without question even replacing the misplaced keys free of cost.”

“Nice time clock for my small restaurant business. Easy to set up and program. Time Cards are a bit pricey to reorder, but they can be used front and back for extra duty.

2. Lathem Heavy Duty

The Lathem Heavy duty is one of the top-rated employee time clocks and is widely popular because of its sleek black design and modern-looking interface. However, priced above the $300 range, it isn’t for everyone.

A major reason for the high cost is the sturdy design that makes it capable of withstanding harsh environments. 

Some of its more appealing features include a bold LCD display, six different printing formats that you can choose from, and the use of thermal printing technology instead of ink ribbons.

Reasons to buy

  • It features alignment sensors that help keep the print from straying off course. It turns green when the time card is properly aligned.
  • You can choose between several formats for time and date.
  • Sturdy build.

Reasons to avoid

  • Very expensive compared to some of the other employee time clocks.
  • It is only compatible with the Lathem time cards, and the unit only packs a bundle of 25 cards. 
  • If you usually use a pen to make simple corrections and mark the time card, you should be warned that the E8 cards are likely to smudge easily.

Selected user comments

“This direct thermal time clock does not use a ribbon the LTH800P has a special card that is heat activated by the print head to create the time stamp. This works great!”

“The Lathem Heavy Duty Time Clock has been worth every penny to my small business. Keeping track of employee’s hours and jobs is so much easier now. There’s a downside though, it loses about 5 -7 minutes a month so the time needs to be reset. I can live with that, it’s easy to adjust..”

“This thing is a tank and very easy to install/setup. I mounted it, plugged it in and it was ready to go with the correct date and time. Best value out there.”

3. Allied Time USA AT-3000

The AT-3000 is yet another affordably priced employee time clock that packs a decent design. With 110 ratings averaging 4.3 stars, this time clock in one of the most highly rated.

Besides being inexpensive, what makes the AT-3000 a popular choice is that it allows you to print a combination of date and time of your own choice and also lets you print on any kind of paper as long as it is 3.5×5 in size.

Reasons to buy

  • It is quite easy to set up, and you are allowed a number of preset short message options.
  • It allows you to align the print to the left or right as you wish and adjust the depth margin.
  • You can use any paper or document to print on as long as it is the right size.

Reasons to avoid

  • The print is very small and hard to read.
  • Aligning the time cards for printing takes some time and is counterproductive.

Selected user comments

“I like that you can change the way the print out reads. I prefer it Month day year and that was easy to make happen. Employees seem to like it just fine and the time is self setting when the power goes out.”

“You have to insert the card a long way before it stamps and to keep it lined up in the right place can be a pain, but that is really a minor thing. And the window and lighted area do help with seeing what you are doing while inserting the card for stamping.”

“I purchased this time clock this week. It was easy to set up. I programmed it to all the settings I wanted. The printing of the date starts a bit left of the blank area for the time cards I use. Other than that, the clock works fine. I had one interaction with their customer service and had a positive experience.”

4. uPunch HN3500

With an average rating of 3.7 out of 5 based on 420 ratings, the uPunch is one of the most-rated electronic clocks on Amazon.

The brand is trusted and the HN3500 is affordably priced.

This model also has a free cloud-based portal where you can manually enter your employee time card data to keep track of their daily working hours and overtime. It also estimates their daily, weekly, and even bi-monthly payrolls.

Each employee is designated a separate time card that keeps a record of their working hours. The time card has six separate columns for each day. This allows you to record 6 punches each day for as many employees as you want. 

You can divide a worker’s daily hours into three separate intervals to allow for much-needed lunch breaks and refreshment periods. 

Reasons to buy

  • The clock has a very simple interface and is fairly easy to use. All you would have to do is insert your time card into the slot and punch in. 
  • It makes the whole time-logging process easier by minimizing the manual work required. You wouldn’t need to appoint separate staff to monitor your employees, which also eliminates the possibility of human error.
  • You can keep a time record for an unlimited number of employees, and that makes it highly flexible in this regard.

Reasons to avoid

  • Some might find the rather tiny print a bit hard to read, which might make it more difficult when it comes to manually feeding the data into a spreadsheet to compute employee wages.
  • Some users have encountered issues with the clock’s accuracy. There have been reports of the clock gaining time over long periods of use.

Selected user comments

“This machine works great and is exactly what we needed for our office, however… they do not print Inside the spaces on the time card. It’s very frustrating when doing payroll but it’s minor and it has the numbers of the date in front of each time so you can still see what day they just print on the line rather than in the space. The machine works well though and there is so many things to utilize on it that we didn’t even need!!”

“We don’t have set lunch times, and sometimes we leave early for the day, this can cause a double punch if the time clock has not been moved to the next row. There is a manual override but you have to remember to push the button. They also offer the use of a website program to enter, track, and send employee hours. The program is nice but you have to manually enter all the times from the card… kind of a burden”

“This time clock has worked awesome so far. It took a little bit for the employees to understand it due to the crazy hours they work at our operation. This clock is full of features that we were unable to utilize due to the around the clock labor, however I was very impressed with the possibilities. Overall this clock is easy to use (if you follow the directions), I love that it has a battery so it doesn’t have to be reset when the power goes out, and I haven’t had to touch it in the 6 months since it’s been set up!”

5. Pyramid 3500

Priced at the same range as some of the other budget models, the 3500 is more of a versatile time clock, and its multipurpose functionality is what makes it popular.

Employers can use it to record employee time but also keep track of job expenses. The time screen looks a bit outdated but it is very to read.

Reasons to buy

  • Users can choose between up to 14 preset messages for documents that require time and date stamps.
  • It features an indicator that helps you align the documents just right.
  • It prints both date and time. You also have the option of using the 12 hour or the 24 hour format, whichever you please.

Reasons to avoid

  • The machine does the printing automatically; there is no manual option to choose when to print such as a button or a dial. This means that the print turns out crooked when the cards are not aligned properly.
  • Getting the alignment right takes a lot of practice and experience. Ironically, this makes the clock a lot more time-consuming.

Selected user comments

“It takes quite a knack to line up the cards correctly and not have them print out crooked. The problem could be very easily solved if Pyramid had simply added a button to control when the machine would fire rather than having it decide on its own regardless of how the card is placed.”

“Very simple and easy to use. Needed a little practice, but once we got the hang of lining up the time cards it worked wonderfully. Recently someone asked if it would round the time. I’ve found that it will round military time to the tenth of an hour (but not other time formats.)”

“Nice solid way to keep track of employee work time. A time clock takes a lot of hassle out of dealing with employee arrival and leaving habits and puts it into a transparent and fair exchange, and this time clock does the trick. I set the time once and haven’t touched it since.”

6. uPunch  HN4500

The uPunch HN4500 is quite similar to the uPunch HN3500, except it comes with an additional bundle of 100 time cards, making a total of 200.

It comes with all the features of the HN3500, such as the uPunch cloud software that requires you to enter your employee data into the portal manually. However, it only allows employees to punch their time stamps onto the timecards 4 times a day. 

One thing that makes it really stand apart is the customizable time setting. It allows you to determine a particular time at the start of the day instead of midnight.

Reasons to buy

  • The flexible time settings can be good for restaurants that open during late hours.
  • The uPunch offers a free online portal to keep track of your employee time records.
  • It comes with a bundle of 200 time cards.

Reasons to avoid

  • There’s nothing remarkable about the portal since it requires you to manually enter all your employee time records into the software, a job that could easily be done on pretty much any other computational platform.
  • It doesn’t stamp dates along with the time-stamps, which is a major flaw in any time clock.

Selected user comments

“This one is great! The last Upunch we had did not calculate the time and this one does. Saves a ton of time and easy to set up. Love it!”

“The biggest issue is for a “calculating” time clock it really doesn’t know how to calculate, it’ll stamp the correct times on the card but at the end of the day/pay period the totals are wrong.”

“No issues and keeps good time. Setup was fairly simple. Adjustments to settings are straightforward. I had to call customer support when I couldn’t get it to calculate hours worked and they walked me through with no issue. Our employees are on the road after initial punch in and don’t punch out for lunch. We use the 1st IN button and the last OUT button to get it to calculate daily hours. Lunch time is paid time so that works fine for us.”

7. Allied Time USA AT-2700

The 2700 is one of the few employee time clocks that automatically aligns and prints your time card for you, comes at a really affordable price, and features a very basic design and interface.

The clock doesn’t feature any buttons that you need to press to punch in your time. The entire time-stamping process is automated.

It also allows you to switch between the 12 hour and 24 hour formats, which is great if you have employees working different time-shifts.

Reasons to buy

  • You wouldn’t have to worry about misaligning your time card and getting the print all over the place.
  • It can be set up very quickly.
  • It works best for small businesses with a smaller number of staff.

Reasons to avoid

  • The clock requires a specific type of time card 
  • It is unable to recognize time cards that have already been stamped from a separate period and will simply print over it if you drop it into the device. This is a bit of a problem if you have part-time employees who accidentally use the time card from the wrong time period over again.

Selected user comments 

“Easy setup, quick start guide, and a free app as well. Getting this working takes very little time for a small business owner, very straightforward setup.”

“If a person uses a time card for an incorrect period (i.e. I have part-timers who will not realize a new time period has started and they’ll clock in on last period’s card.) . Suddenly I have a card which is double-printed and I cannot read the original information. This time clock is okay. Not great. I wish I’d spent more money and got one which calculated total time, etc.”

“Loved the Time Clock as long as we had less than 50 employees. Once a year, during the fair, our employees grow to around 100 or more. This time clock will not take care of more than 50 employees at a time, due to the programming, and numbering of the time cards”

8. Pyramid 4000

The Pyramid 4000 is high-priced for a unit that is simply functional. It performs all of the basic operations you would expect in any decent employee time clock.

The set up is simple but also unremarkable. What makes it stand out, however, is its automatic calculation feature. It calculates the payable time based on the hours worked between punching in and punching out, which makes computing payrolls a lot easier.

Reasons to buy

  • The unit automatically takes care of alignment and printing once you feed the time card into the slot.
  • Reduces the manual workload of calculating payrolls.
  • It let’s you calculate weekly, monthly, and even semi-monthly pay periods when necessary.

Reasons to avoid

  • It only works with the Pyramid 500R ink ribbon cartridge and a specific kind of bar-coded time card.
  • Users have encountered an issue where the clock repeatedly reprints over the same line making the time card useless.
  • It lacks an option to choose when you clock in and clock out. This can result in a lot of inaccuracies in the employee time cards.

Selected user comments

“It does not provide the option to choose whether you clock in or out. If an employee forgot to clock in or ended their workday in the field, there was no way to override the in/out feature.“

“I would definitely recommend this handy device to any small business looking for a great in-expensive calculating time clock for their employees. Very easy to program and install and extremely user friendly. Just drop the time sheet in slot and the actual machine pull it through and prints out arrival/departure times along with the daily hours calculated so worker is able to see how long they worked. ”

“I like the fact that it can be set up for bi-weekly payroll in such a way that it enables each employee to utilize only one card every two weeks, instead of two, which saves me money. In this mode, although the print is smaller, it also prints a running total of the employee’s hours worked on the card, after each out-punch.My only complaint is that it has a much noisier mechanism than my first Pyramid time clock. ”

9. uAttend BN6500

The uAttend BN6500 is one of the few employee time clocks that actually try to attempt something new with when it comes to tracking time. It is a Biometric time clock that uses a fingerprint scanner in place of a punching mechanism.  However, the fact that it is quite expensive deters most potential buyers from giving it a try.

The software is also cloud-based and is, therefore, easily accessible from your smart device. This is particularly helpful for scheduling working time periods and computing payrolls remotely.

Reasons to buy

  • It allows you to monitor your employee time periods and shifts using a simple internet-connected device such as your smartphone.
  • The interface looks really simple and easy to navigate.
  • Setting it up doesn’t take too long.

Reasons to avoid

  • A lot of users have found the Wi-Fi connectivity to be too poor.
  • It requires a monthly payment for the software service.

Selected user comments

“As a small business owner this is exactly what i needed. There are other time punch companies like Kronos but are way way too expensive. uAttend is a little difficult to setup up the first time but after a few hours of over the phone training it’s simple. I highly recommend!!”

“….The desktop interface is invaluable. 30 days after opening our account, we got a notice saying the monthly fee was increasing $2. I’m not sure if that was because it just happen to be the start of a new year, or if they do that to all accounts. Honestly, it’s worth the money, so I don’t really care, but it would have been nice to get an explanation.”

“Like this product. Easy to use and great for running payroll reports, etc. The only glitch is that sometimes the scanner doesn’t read the fingerprint on the first or second try.”

10. Acroprint 125NR4

The model 15 looks a lot like an old-fashioned clock with its analog face and is relatively expensive considering it requires you to manually punch in a push bar on top of the unit in order to print the time-stamp.

The few features that might make it appealing to most is that the large print is quite legible, and it also works with just about any standard time card. The time-stamp can be set to any one of five different available configurations.

Reasons to buy

  • The clock is much more durable than other employee time clocks thanks to its sturdy rust-resistant ABS build.
  • It doesn’t require you to purchase  time cards of any particular brand. Just about any standard time card will do.
  • The print is easier to read. 

Reasons to avoid

  • It looks very outdated and out of place for a regular business environment. This also makes it hard to justify its expensive price.
  • Most people tend to prefer the digital clock face as opposed to the analog one, and it requires you to frequently adjust the date and time, which in itself is hard to do compared to some of the other employee time clocks.
  • It tends to gain time by a couple of minutes after a short period of use, and it is harder to reset it back due to its analog interface.

Selected user comments

“It’s a very sturdy clock, but it is difficult to adjust the date/time, and the only problem with that is you have to do it often. It seems every month I have to advance the month… There are little levers and wheels that need to be moved, and there are no labels for what does what.”

“This is a quality clock for the price. You’ll have to set it manually for daylight savings time twice a year. I did not choose the one that printed a date because then you have to reset the date most months. This one prints the day of the week and that’s good enough for my use. It prints clearly and accurately each time. Here is the bad thing: IT MAKES A LOUD CLICK EVERY MINUTE”

“Been using this clock about 2 months now. Keeps perfect time. Easy installation, just plug it in and it goes.”

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