Let me start by being very clear about something: $150 is way, way too much to spend on an alarm clock.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you all about iHome's new $150 alarm clock. It's called the iAVS16, and iHome will point out that it's not just an alarm clock, but a full-fledged Alexa device with Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant built right in. Save for calling, messaging, and ESP, which makes it so only the Alexa device closest to you responds to your command, it can do everything the Amazon Echo can do. It's Alexa's brain transplanted into an alarm clock body.
If that pitch sounds a bit familiar, it's because Amazon has an Alexa alarm clock of its own in the works. That soon-to-be-released gadget, the $130, costs a little less than the iAVS16, and unlike the iAVS16, it includes a touchscreen and a camera. That might sound like bad news for iHome, but I'd actually argue the opposite -- plenty of folks who'd be interested in an Alexa alarm clock will likely prefer that it not keep a camera pointed at them while they sleep, thank you very much.
On top of that, the iAVS16 offers decent, full-size sound quality that, to my ear, sounds almost as good as the Echo, and certainly good enough for bedside listening. It'll even wake you up by playing a Spotify playlist -- something the Echo still can't do. If it looked a little nicer, I might even call it a legitimate temptation. But at $150, it's just too pricey to recommend.
Design and features
The iAVS16's build is a bit bulky as far as alarm clocks go, especially considering that it doesn't include a dock for your phone. The size was necessary, I suppose, to give it full-sounding audio, but I would have gladly traded some of that fidelity in exchange for a design that gobbles up less of my nightstand's real estate -- especially if that also meant a lower price.
The aesthetics leave a lot to be desired, too. With the time in large print surrounded by the date, the weather, the Wi-Fi status and your alarm info, it's a cluttered, inelegant display that doesn't do much to set itself apart from good-looking competitors like, or even from iHome's own, less-expensive alarm clocks.
Speaking of which, those cheaper iHome offerings include an alarm clock that doubles as a dock for the. I liked that product , but thought that it was too expensive at $70. iHome has since marked it down to $50, which feels a lot more reasonable. At any rate, if you're already using an Echo Dot to wake you up in the morning, then that product would make a much more sensible upgrade.
Whereas that alternative includes no buttons at all, the iAVS16 has a whopping 14 buttons up top, including two programmable smart buttons that can trigger playlists or turnon and off. There's also a button to pair via Bluetooth, a button to put the clock into speakerphone mode, a full set of buttons for music playback, a separate, programmable button that's supposed to trigger multiple things at once when you wake up or settle in, a button to wake Alexa, a button to mute Alexa, a button to toggle the color-changing LEDs on the bottom of the clock, and, of course, the venerable snooze button.