I know what you’re thinking: Great. Another set of iPod speakers. As if that’s not bad enough these ones want to get you up in the morning. Dreadful. The iHome follows a fairly conventional ‘Kleenex box’ design. It’s (in inches) around 10 x 6 x 3, and is covered in a rather lovely piano black finish that works rather well with a black iPod. I think the majority of Pod people would have preferred a white one, but for my part I really liked the way this thing looked.
Time and FM frequency display are handled by a 3.5" by 1" backlit LCD with two (well three if you count ‘off’) backlight settings to accommodate people who don’t appreciate a constant ethereal blue glow in their bedroom. If you selected your gadgets on appearance alone (and who doesn’t, really?) you might well be tempted by this one.
What really counts of course with a set of speakers is the sound, and the iHome does not disappoint. The ported enclosure (with Reson8 Sound Chamber Technology, whatever that is) chucks out a deep rich sound which, while predictably lacking a little in separation due to the physical proximity of the 2″ speakers, is in the same league as more expensive devices like the mighty Bose dock. A line in is provided for alternative sound sources, and, rather unnecessarily in my view, a line out too. All the settings are adjusted by a pair of rotary dials on the top of the unit, which interact with the 8 pushbuttons to give you more-or-less instant access to all the function you might realistically need.
With the use of the provided inserts you can slot virtually any iPod in the top-mounted dock. Shuffle owners would need to resort to the line in. Certainly with the correct insert installed (and the handy little rubber cushions provided) my iPod with video sat securely in place without seeming like it was going to get wedged or damaged.
The remote control doesn’t have much influence over what your iPod is playing, but it does give you volume control and allow you to switch between Pod and radio. Given that the iHome is probably going to live on our bedside table you probably won’t use the remote too much anyway, unless you get tied to the bed a lot and intend to adjust the radio volume with your teeth.
I struggled to find much wrong with this product, honestly: I think that the more eclectic radio listeners among you might miss FM presets, but given that at this price point they’re basically giving you the FM tuner for nothing it seems a little churlish to bring it up. Note too that there’s no USB connectivity, so this is not a device that’s intended to sit next to your computer. It wants to hang around in your bedroom and make a certain amount of noise, and frankly that should be good enough.
In our opinion
The iHome is a well designed, decently constructed piece of kit. It does what it does very well, especially considering the very reasonable price. Personally I don’t imagine I would ever want to wake up to the unconscionable racket that I keep on my iPod, even with the iHomes ‘fading in’ feature, but of course your view may vary. As a means of bringing a wide variety of music into the room you use the most it is currently without peer.