iHome’s iA63 is a stereo speakered alarm clock with a 30-pin dock. It’s compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch (it is not compatible with the iPad), and includes a motorized dock that rotates from portrait to landscape mode at the touch of a button. It sports a dedicated alarm, clock, the ability to sync with your iPhone’s time, an FM radio and stereo speakers. Installing iHome’s compatible alarm clock ($0) app brings a few more alarms and the ability to tweak settings such as the snooze and sleep timer.
Like any good alarm clock, the top of the device includes a dedicated snooze button. It also doubles as a dimmer switch for the clock and the iPhone’s display, that is assuming you’ve got the app installed and running. We’ve looked at the app in a previous review, so head there to get the deets. However, I will note that the app’s feature set is slightly increased in portrait mode. Why? I don’t know, but you can access more alarms and tweak more features.
On the rear of the iA63 is a switch to sync it with the iPhone’s time. Handy, since setting any clock after a power outage is a nuisance. There is also a rope antenna for the FM radio, an AUX input for adding a computer or another portable player, and a credit card sized remote.
The remote works just dandy. They’ve included a battery, which is always nice to see, and I’d imagine that it will probably last a good chunk of time. However, it is one of those pesky watch batteries, so replacing it will take a bit more effort. What I particularly liked was that it features a snooze button. That means you can setup up the second alarm for your mate, who is presumably out of arm’s reach, and they too can snooze without depending on you to move, or hopefully wake up.
The built-in radio can function on its own without an iPhone or iPod Touch docked. However, downloading the $1.99 iHome Radio app will slightly enhance this feature. I didn’t feel like plunking down $2, so I didn’t test this aspect of the device.
Setting the device’s alarm is intuitive; you just hold down the alarm button and use the “+/-” keys to increase or decrease the time. Unlike other alarm clocks, the iHome iA63 will slow down at the half past and hour marks, which is a nice touch and prevents you from flying by the typical wake times. Though, at times it made it a bit frustrating to set the alarm. There is no AM/PM function, so you’ll need to cycle every 12 hours to cycle between the night or day setting.
The motorized rotating dock is without a doubt a neat feature. Necessary? No. The chances of you using your iPhone to watch a movie, or interact beyond setting the alarm is pretty slim. Also, accessing the touchscreen when the iPhone is docked is a bit difficult since you can’t grasp it. I tested the iA63 with an iPhone 3Gs and it fit snuggly in the dock. I’d expect the same for the iPhone 4 since it doesn’t require any inserts. However, placing my iPhone into the dock proved a bit challenging, especially when I was tired.
As found in all of iHome’s products is their patented Reson8 speaker chamber system. But unlike some of iHome’s other products, the iA63 isn’t quite up to snuff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s loud for a bedside alarm clock, it’s just lacks the oomph that I’ve come to expect from iHome. Fidelity wise, it does leave something to be desired, but given its rather small size and intended purpose, it suffices.
The volume level ranges from 0-40. While most will see this as a moot feature I did not. It’s nice to have such a large gray area when it comes to volume control, especially when you’re waking up to it. The sweet spot for me was around 18, which is almost 50% of the iA63’s amplitude. It’s worth noting that the iA63’s alarm has a gradual volume increase, which is a more natural and comfortable way to wake up.
The footprint of the iA63, you know, the amount of space it takes up, is about on par with most alarm clocks. It’s a consideration worth making, especially since my bedside table is rather limited in size. To put it in perspective, it doesn’t take up any more space than your average sized picture frame.
$100 for a bedside alarm clock is pushing the top end of the category. But not too many of them, regardless of price, can output stereo tunes and includes a motorized rotating dock. And let’s not over look iHome’s alarm app which provides additional features and tweaking. Don’t expect amazing sound to pump from the speakers, but considering its diminutive size, and all things relative, it’s on par with some of the other speaker systems in a comparable category. I could have done without the motorized rotating dock, which is just one more thing to break and probably bumps up the price. On the other hand it is fun, albeit gimmicky feature.
- Full featured alarm clock
- 30-pin dock for iPhone and iPod Touch
- Remote control with snooze and sleep features
- Expensive for an alarm clock; $100
- Motorized dock is gimmicky
- Removing and inserting the iPhone takes some effort
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