iHome's been making accessories for popular gadgets ever since the debut of the iPhone, and these days, they're offering upgrades for your Amazon Echo speakers, too.
Specifically, iHome sells a variety of docks for the pint-sized Amazon Echo Dot. Some include batteries to let you take it with you around the house, some transform it into more of an alarm clock, and others include unique, nifty features to help jazz things up, like the color-changing mood lights seen here. We're currently testing out two of the newest iHome Dot docks -- scroll through and let's take a look.
Let's start with that color-changing dock from the first slide. It's the iAVS5, and it'll cost you $60 (that's a little less than £50, or about $80 in Australia). Along with the color-changing mood lights in the front, the iAVS5 includes a stronger speaker to help improve the Dot's otherwise puny sound quality, plus a built-in battery that lets you unplug the thing and take Alexa with you wherever you want.
The second-gen Echo Dot slides into the top, and you'll still have access to the power and aux-out ports through that little window.
That little dongle poking through the window plugs into the Dot's Micro-USB power jack to keep it powered.
You'll use Bluetooth to pair the Dot with the dock's speaker. Just go to device settings in the Alexa app, select your Dot, then tap Bluetooth.
You'll need to press that Bluetooth button on the dock to complete the pairing process. The other buttons let you power the speaker on and off or switch the color of the mood light. There's also a removable rubber cover to close off the port access and keep things looking tidy.
You'll use the plug that came with your Echo Dot to power and charge the speaker.
Once the battery's charged, you'll be able to unplug the speaker and take it with you. iHome claims that the battery will last up to 8 hours.
As for the color-changing lights, your controls are pretty limited. You get a couple of preset color cycles to choose from, and you can also lock in on a solid color of your choosing (I'm a fan of green, myself). I'd like the lights a lot better if you could adjust the brightness, or set them to change in rhythm with your music.
The iAVS5 might be an especially good upgrade if you like to spend time outdoors, and would enjoy being able to bring Alexa along for things like voice-activated music playback.
Your other new option from iHome: an Echo Dot clock dock (say that five times fast). It's an attractive little dock that gives your Dot a clock face, plus much better sound quality. The cost? $70, or about £55/AU$95, converted roughly.
Like the iAVS5, the iAVS2 keeps your Echo Dot docked up top. Just drop it into place.
Unlike the iAVS5, which makes you pair your Dot with the speaker over Bluetooth, the iAVS2 includes a little auxiliary dongle for a direct, wired audio connection between the Dot and the speaker.
Boom. Better audio.
As for power, the iAVS2 comes with this little dongle to connect the Dot with the speaker.
Here's how it looks with everything connected. Note that there's an extra USB port for charging your phone -- a great and oft-overlooked addition for a bedside gadget like this.
Lots of folks keep an Echo Dot in the bedroom so they can turn the lights off or adjust the thermostat from bed using simple voice commands. Plenty of people use an Dot for their morning alarm, too. In cases like that, I think the iAVS2 is a pretty sensible upgrade, especially if you like to keep both a Dot and a dedicated alarm clock on your nightstand so you can still see the time at a glance.
That said, $70 seems a bit steep, especially since iHome already offers other, similar alarm clock docks for the Dot that carry the same appeal at a lower price. I like the look of the iAVS2, but I'd probably wait for a sale.