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iHome iP1 review: iHome iP1

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The Good Arresting design; component video outputs for iPod video; line-in jack; good sound quality; GSM shielding for optimal iPhone compatibility.

The Bad Somewhat pricey; no built-in radio or alarm; not great with softer, acoustical tracks.

The Bottom Line The iHome iP1 may not sound great with all types of music, but this striking iPod/iPhone speaker system will appeal to listeners who gravitate toward pop, hip-hop, rock, and electronica.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8

We don't associate the iHome brand with "premium" audio and cutting-edge design, but the folks there are giving it their best shot with the 100-watt iP1, which has a new look for the company known for its budget iPod audio systems.

The first thing you notice about the iP1 is that it has a very distinct, industrial look. It's all black with translucent, dark tinted plastic glass on the front supporting two, rather deep cylindrical speakers (they extend a little more than 6 inches out the back). Weighing 8 pounds, the system has some heft to it, but you can easily move it around the room, though it's a little awkward to carry.

The iP1 has a set of "custom-designed" 4-inch woofers and 1-inch silk dome tweeters that are powered by Bongiovi Acoustics' proprietary Digital Power Station processor. In terms of connectivity, there's a standard audio input to connect other audio sources along with a component AV output and a remote control. It also works with iPhones; it's GSM-shielded, so you can dock the iPhone without having to toggle it to airplane mode.

We could lament the lack of a built-in alarm clock or radio on the iP1. However, all iPods have built-in clocks with alarms that will rouse you out of bed in the morning--just be sure to leave the iP1's speakers turned on. Likewise, the iPod Touch and iPhone have plenty of live streaming audio options available, and the fifth-generation iPod Nano has a built-in FM radio--so the dearth of a radio on the iP1 isn't such a big deal.

Indeed, the only real extra from a features standpoint is that AV output for iPod videos. The idea behind it is that you could position the iP1 near a TV (preferably under it in a rack) and the iHome becomes the stereo audio system for your movies. Its audio quality is superior to what the integrated speakers on most TVs can produce.

The remote control that comes with the system is longer than your typical credit-card-size iPod speaker remote and it has a few more buttons. You have the usual controls (skip track forward/back, rewind/fast forward, and play/pause), plus there's a menu button that lets you navigate through the menus on your iPod or iPhone, though you will have to stand close to your device to see the screen (Apple menus do not display on your TV screen when you're in video output mode).

In terms of sound adjustments, can raise and lower bass and treble levels and engage the "B" button that kicks in Bongiovi Acoustics' Digital Power Station processor; it's also supposed to make your MP3s sound better.

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