Editors' Note: As of December 2007, this product has been replaced by the iHome iH9, which offers an updated design and some feature upgrades for roughly the same price. It does not, however, include the extra speaker.
In 2005, SDI Technologies had a surprise hit with its iPod-compatible clock radio, the $99 iHome iH5. SDI has followed up on that success by expanding its line of iPod-dockable audio systems. One of its latest models is the iH7BR, which is essentially an enhanced iH5 that carries a more expensive price tag ($150 list).
When we described the iHome iH5 in our earlier review, we couldn't decide whether its look is truly modern or retro-futuristic in a 1960s Space Odyssey sort of way. The same holds true for the iH7, because its design is virtually identical, except for an expansion speaker that can sit on an opposite bedside table and some added buttons (for preset radio stations) on top of the main unit, where you'll also find a USB port for the iPod Shuffle. The iH7 currently comes only in black.
The product ships with several inserts that make earlier dockable iPods fit snugly and securely in the cradle. When your iPod is in the dock and the iH7 is plugged in, your iPod will draw power from the clock radio and recharge. You choose songs, playlists, or podcasts with the iPod's scroll wheel as usual, but hear the audio through the iH7's speakers. Of course, you can't get today's news and weather on the iPod--yet--but you can toggle to the iHome's AM or FM bands at the touch of a button. We also appreciate the line-in connection on the back of the unit, which would allow you to connect other audio devices, including iPod models that aren't dockable. A line-out connection also is available for hooking up to larger audio systems.