Review: iHome iH5 for iPod - Macenstein

Review: iHome iH5 for iPod

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

I’m not what you would call a big coffee drinker. In fact, I would rather wake up to the Folgers Themes Song than to a cup of Folder’s coffee. Well, luckily for me, now I CAN!

A company called iHome has found a way to make getting out of bed fun for a fellow like me (or at least not the hellish experience it usually is). The iH5 by iHome is a full-featured alarm clock with beautiful iPod-esque styling which contains a built-in iPod docking station, allowing you to not only wake up to any song on your iPod, but you can charge your iPod while you do it! (Yes, I am so lame that I actually have an MP3 of the Folgers Theme Song on my iPod.)

The iH5 allows you to wake up to any song from your iPod.

The iHome iH5 delivers a wealth of features and extremely good sound given its fairly small price tag of $84.99. For people like myself who pretty much pick up their iPod in the morning and don’t put it down until right before they go to bed, the iH5 is the perfect iPod accessory.

The iH5 has all the features you’d expect from an alarm clock, such as an AM/FM radio, 9 minute snooze, 3 display brightness settings, battery back up, and the ability to choose multiple wake up options. It also boasts a line-in and line-out port, so you can either hook the system to a more robust stereo system if you wish, or hook up other devices for playback through its speakers.

What makes the iH5 stand out from regular alarm clocks, however, is its built-in iPod dock. This allows you to play your iPod through the iH5’s speakers and, more importantly, allows you to choose any song on your iPod as your wakeup call.

The iH5 comes equipped with a series of adapters that allow for a snug fit of any model iPod sporting a dock connector. There is even an adapter for the iPod shuffle (of course the shuffle cannot connect via the dock connector, but the line in feature works great).

Those wishing to spend a little extra can purchase a remote for the iH5 ($19.99) which can control the unit and skip through songs on your iPod and control the volume from across the room. Our review unit shipped with the remote, and it worked well in most cases, although the range fell off dramatically around 15 feet or so.

Setting the alarm is easy. Just select the song you wish to wake up to on your iPod, choose your initial wakeup volume, and select “iPod� as your wakeup method. The iH5 has a gradual volume increase feature, meaning the volume “ramps up� from your initial volume to a level of 21, a level high enough to wake the most hearty sleeper, yet just low enough to not wake the entire house.


The iH5 does have a few shortcomings worth mentioning; most notable among them is the inability to set a final wakeup volume. No matter what volume you start at, the iH5 will always ramp up to a setting of 21 (I found 18 or so a comfortable daily listening volume), and I could see this level being a bit loud for some people. However this IS an alarm clock, and the purpose is to wake you up.

I also felt the button design to be slightly lacking. The problem is the buttons make a loud “click� when pressed, and setting the alarm to “ON� makes a loud beep which could wake an already sleeping partner.

Finally, the brightness on the iH5 display, while having 3 different brightness settings, could also have done with an even dimmer setting (or perhaps even an “off� option), as at its dimmest setting the display can still be a bit bright. The reason for this is that instead of illuminated numbers in a black field, as most alarm clocks have, the iH5 has black numbers set against a fully illuminated display. This allows for a much brighter light to be emitted into your bedroom.

None of these issues stops the iH5 from functioning as a perfectly serviceable alarm clock, but they do detract a bit from the end-user experience, and I would expect all of them to be addressed in a future revision.

The iH5 buttons and cock connector (right) and line-in/out and antennae ports (left).

Final thoughts

The iHome iH5 raises the bar for iPod accessories in my opinion. I realize the iH5 is being marketed as an “iPod alarm clock�. However, I think most people considering the iH5 should look at it not as an alarm clock with a great iPod dock/speaker system, they should look at it as a great iPod dock/speaker system with a built-in alarm clock.

The sound quality is really amazing. I found myself using this iH5 in our living room as an iPod shelf stereo system more often than in my bedroom as an alarm clock. The sound on the iH5 is better than any other $84 speakers you will find, and better than some $150 dollar ones I’ve tested. Add to that the fact that the iH5 has a built-in dock (something Apple charges $40 for) and you really have an amazing bargain. The fact that it supports any iPod with a dock connector means it has a huge potential audience, and will likely support future iPods for years to come. The line-in/out is also a great plus, as you can hook other devices such as CD players or even an iPod shuffle to the iH5 for playback.

Those people looking to use the iH5 as an alarm clock most likely don’t need the remote, but I would recommend getting it if, like me, you think you would use the iH5 in a kitchen or family room setting.

iHome iH5 for iPod

Price: $84.99 (Amazon)
Remote Price: $19.99

Rating: 8.2 out of 10

Pros: Good sound quality and feature set for the price, rivals costlier offerings without alarm feature from JBL and Logitech

Cons: some design issues hamper the alarm feature (which is what makes it unique) from reaching its full potential

2 Responses to “Review: iHome iH5 for iPod”
  1. Anonymous says:

    how do you take the dock out of the ihome to put in the correct size?

  2. Pastor Darin says:

    Where can I get the Folgers wake up song on MP3?

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