iHome has a number of compact, rectangular-shaped iPod clock radio stereo systems in its product lineup. In fact, these types of tabletop systems are how the company initially made a name for itself, and as the company has expanded, so has the selection of iPod clock radios. So, what does the iA100 bring to the table?
For starters, it's iHome's first product that's intended to work as a speaker dock for the iPad (though it also works with iPods and iPhones). At $200 list, the unit--it's effectively an oversize clock radio with an Apple dock on the top--is among the company's most expensive products. Not only does it pretty much throw in the kitchen sink in terms of features, but it also offers a higher level of sound quality (this is part of the company's "studio series" that's stamped with Bongiovi Acoustics brand). That doesn't mean the sound is all that terrific, but it is better than what you'll find in step-down models such as the $100 iP90.
In terms of design, the iA100 looks pretty nice. It's got a matte-black finish on top and a rubberized "insert" to help cushion the bottom edge of your iPad when docked. The unit itself feels fairly solid at 3.3 pounds, and overall, the design and build quality is a step up from iHome's $99 tabletop units. It measures in at a compact 3.21 inches tall by 6.66 inches wide by 11.1 inches deep.
As we said, the iA100 scores high in the features department. In fact, it has just about everything you'd want in a tabletop iPod/iPhone/iPad stereo.
For starters, you can dock and charge your iPad. The support system is pretty simple; a small, rubber-covered bar keeps the iPad standing at a slight angle. It's not a huge amount of support, but when the end of Apple's universal connector goes into the port on your iPad, your device ends up being locked in place pretty securely. The same can be said for an iPhone or iPod Touch (it supports docking of virtually all iPods) and it's worth pointing out that if you have a bulkier iPhone case, you shouldn't have any trouble docking your unit, which is a plus.
The iA100 has an FM radio (sorry, no AM) with six presets. It also has dual alarms along with snooze and sleep features (you can set the unit to turn off after 15, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes). Alas, the alarm set buttons are on the back of the unit along with the Bluetooth pairing button. That's also where you'll find an auxiliary input for connecting other audio devices. Though the button placement is a minor gripe (we expect most people to set the alarms via the iHome app), it's worth pointing out.
Aside from Bluetooth, most of the onboard features are pretty standard. However, once you download the iHome app from the App Store--it's called iHome + Sleep--and dock your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad (both iPhone and iPad versions of the app are available), things get a lot more interesting. You suddenly have a very feature-rich clock radio that has a touch-screen display (you can sync the time on your iPad or iPhone with the time on the iA100's display with a touch of a button).
The app, which was recently updated to version 2.03, has a nice, clean interface on the iPad (it's optimized for the iPad's screen, not an iPhone app that you need to zoom) and it has some nice features. You can add various alarms that can be programmed to go off on certain days, so you can easily set up a weekday and weekend alarm schedules or even special nap times.