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iHome iDM8 review: iHome iDM8

iHome iDM8

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

After the success of the Jawbone Jambox, portable Bluetooth speakers are proliferating and iHome has two affordably priced compact models out for 2012, the iDM11 and iDM8.


iHome iDM8

The Good

The <b>iHome iDM8</b> is a distinctly designed, affordably priced, compact Bluetooth speaker that sounds decent enough and plays reasonably loud. It also has a built-in rechargeable battery and an audio input cable for non-Bluetooth devices.

The Bad

A little short on bass and detail; no protective carrying case included; a proprietary combo cable is needed for wired audio playback.

The Bottom Line

The iHome iDM8 is a good portable Bluetooth speaker for the money; we just like its step-up brother, the DM11, a little better.

Available in black or red, the iDM8 ($60 list, $50 online) reviewed here has a bulbous design and seems to be modeled after the top of a microphone (it's a little bigger than your typical singing microphone). It certainly is distinct-looking, feels substantial in your hand, and can be easily placed just about anywhere.

We had no problem pairing an iPhone 4S with the iDM8, which is compatible with all smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices that are Bluetooth-enabled (A2DP). Like other Bluetooth speakers, you can get about 30 feet away from the speaker before you start to lose your wireless audio connection. There's a volume control on the speaker, but most people will chose to set that at the highest level--or near it--and control volume from your phone or other portable device.

Sound quality is decent for a small speaker of this size, though not great. Like its step-up brother, the iDM11, it doesn't have as much bass as the Jambox and its sound isn't terribly detailed. However, most people should be impressed with what it can output and that it can play fairly loud. It'll fill a small room or office with sound, but you won't want to crank your tunes to the max because you'll get some distortion at high volumes, especially with bass-heavy music.

The iDM8 has a Micro-USB port that doubles for recharging and audio input--but you'll need to use the included proprietary cable.

Unlike the iDM11 (or the Jambox), this model doesn't have a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls, but it does have a rechargeable battery. You charge the speaker via a cable that also doubles as an audio connection for non-Bluetooth devices. iHome calls this a 2-in-1 USB/3.5mm audio to micro USB cable. You basically plug the 3.5mm jack that's part of the cable into the headphone jack or auxiliary input on the device to output sound to the speaker. It works well enough, but if you lose the cable, you're out of luck.

The iDM8 and iDM11 sound pretty similar, though the iDM11 arguably offers slightly better sound. Neither speaker is going to blow you away, but they're decent enough considering their small size and relatively affordable price tags (the iDM8 list for $60 while the iDM11 goes for $70).

In many ways the iDM8 is on par with Logitech's Mini Boombox, which costs a little more but has speakerphone capabilities like the iDM11.

Overall, I came away liking the iDM8 and think it's a pretty good little portable Bluetooth speaker for the money. However, as I said in my review of the iDM11, I'm a little more partial to that model and think it's worth spending the extra $10 on it.

That said, if you're smitten with the bulbous the design of the iDM8 and don't mind the missing speakerphone option, I have no problem recommending it.


iHome iDM8

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6