iLuv iMM173 review: iLuv iMM173

The iLuv Double Play's most noteworthy features are iPhone-comaptibility and the nifty dual-dock trick, but it's the radio and alarm features that give the system a solid foundation. There's no AM radio included on the Double Play (if that's a deal-breaker, try the JVC NX-PN7), but the radio's eight presets and autoscanning feature make it easy to hunt down and store your favorite FM stations.

There are two independent alarms on the iLuv Double Play, which can each be set to trigger radio, buzzer, aux input, or one of the two docked iPods. Unlike competing systems from iHome, iLuv doesn't offer the capability to designate alarms as "weekday" or "weekend," however, it boasts tricks such as waking you with a gradual rise in volume and defaulting to buzzer mode when no iPod is present. Snooze duration is set permanently at 7 minutes, but the Sleep timer can be set for as little as 15 minutes, or as long as 2 hours. As a safety precaution, there's a compartment for two AAA batteries (not included) on the bottom of the Double Play, which serve as backup power for your clock in case of an outage.

One of the small details to appreciate on the iLuv Double Play is the multiple dim settings on the clock's large, 4-inch, slightly angled display. There are 10 LCD dimmer settings in total, one of which turns the clock's backlight completely off. The LCD contrast is excellent, serving up big bold digits, with a smaller month and day display near the bottom.

The remote control included with the iLuv Double Play is surprisingly full-featured, with more than 15 buttons covering various aspects of the alarm, radio, and iPod playback. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a waste, since the iLuv Double Play's thin sound quality makes it less than ideal for any purpose beyond getting you out of bed. That said, the remote does include a snooze button, opening up the possibility of placing your alarm clock across the room and relying on your remote to silence it. Just don't place the Double Play too far away, because the IR remote won't work reliably beyond 15 feet.

If you find the Double Play's dual iPod docks its most alluring feature, it's worth noting that only one of the two docks "officially" supports the iPhone. In practice, both docks charge and play either the iPod or iPhone just fine, but if you set your iPhone into the left dock you'll see a message warning that the accessory is not supported. Chalk it up to iLuv wanting to save money on licensing fees, but considering you can only play one iPod or iPhone at a time anyhow, we don't think having only one "official" iPhone dock is such a big deal.

The iLuv Double Play is a practical system that solves the problem of charging two iPods or iPhones overnight and works as a dependable, well-appointed alarm clock. Our only complaint is that the Double Play doesn't sound all that great for a system costing $130. Even with a liberal application of iLuv's integrated bass and treble EQ settings, the sound quality coming from the Double Play's two 1.5-inch speakers isn't much better than what you'd hear from a system half its price.

Audio playback is certainly loud enough to wake most people, but the sound quality suffers from the typical lack of low-end meat and high-end clarity that plagues most clock radios. That's not to say the Double Play isn't a good value--it's just not a great stereo. Fortunately, the Double Play's speakers are shielded from interference, so at least you won't wake up to that familiar Morse code static sound every time your phone checks in with the mothership.

For a dual-docking iPod and iPhone alarm clock with a little more sonic oomph (but a much smaller clock), check out the JVC NX-PN7.