The rise of “i” devices gave birth to an entire industry dedicated to churning out speaker docks for Apple’s portable gadgets. One such company is iHome, which has launched more than its fair share of docking products through the years. Recently, the company released the latest in its line of combo docks, the iHome iD50. Besides coming with the requisite speakers, the iD50 also comes with an alarm clock function to provide users with extra utility. So does the device deserve a place on your mantle or nightstand? Here’s a look at its pros and cons.
Good sound: The iHome iD50 gets a nice boost in sound quality thanks to 3D audio processing via SRS. Granted, it’s not at the quality that serious audiophiles would like. But for consumer speakers, the sound isn’t half bad — especially given how speaker docks of this size usually tend to sound flat.
Wireless and wired connectivity: The iD50’s Bluetooth function means you can use it wirelessly with other Bluetooth-enabled devices aside from the iPod, iPhone or iPad. As an example, I synced my Samsung Galaxy S smartphone with the device and was able to play music from my phone wirelessly. Although the built-in dock is only compatible with Apple devices, you can still physically connect non-Apple players or gadgets to the iD50 through its line-in socket. The device also has a radio function, with users able to save up to six stations via presets.
Phone functionality: If you’re using your phone as the music player for your iD50, another neat feature is the ability to answer calls through the device if you’ve got it synced with your phone. Just press the “Talk” button on the dock and it will route incoming calls to the speakers. You can then converse via the integrated mic and hang up once you’re done by pressing the “End” button on the iD50.
Supports iPad docking: Unlike some other docks, which only supports the smaller iPhone or iPod, the iD50 lets you physically dock the ginormous iPad on top of the device. In addition to listening to music from the tablet, this means you also can charge the iPad via the proprietary port when the device is docked.
Lots of other features: The iD50’s clock comes with several alarm functions, including the ability to set up two different alarm times through either the device itself or a free app. Alarms can be set to chimes, the radio or music. A sleep function allows users to sleep while listening to music, with the device gradually lowering the volume until it turns the music off at a certain time. A nap function also serves as a quick alarm for folks who want to take a quick sleep break. The intensity of the digital read out can be adjusted and turned all the way down for users who can’t sleep due to light sensitivity issues.
Bluetooth niggles: Although the device has a coverage range of up to 30 feet, there were still a few times when the sound would cut off for less than a second, even when the wirelessly synced device is just a few feet away. Sound quality also drops a bit when connected via Bluetooth.
High volume distortion: You can push the volume pretty loud with the iD50 but you start to get distortion at higher levels.
Finicky remote: Unless the remote is perfectly aligned, it won’t work despite having good range.
Wonky app: The iHome apps for controlling the device can have issues with glitches.
The iHome iD50 offers good sound for its size and comes with plenty of features. It certainly has its share of issues. Nevertheless, it is a solid dock for "i" devices, overall.
For more about speakers and headphones, check out our Speaker and Headphone hub.iHOME iD50
- Platform: iPod, iPhone and iPad
- Cost: $170
- Final rating: 4 stars out of 5