The iHome iH5R is a fairly new addition to the mass of iPod accessories in the marketplace today. While many iPod accessories are unoriginal and overpriced, the iH5R delivers originality, reasonable sound quality, and all the features you would expect from a much more expensive iPod stereo system at an affordable price point.
The iH5R’s most original feature is its alarm clock function. The alarm clock will wake you to a regular buzzer, the FM or AM radio, or a song of your selection from your iPod. A nice feature for those of us who are a little more forgetful at bedtime is that if you have it set to the iPod wake function and forget to dock your iPod, it will default to the buzzer. It’s a bit of a rude awakening when you’re expecting to wake up to Yanni and you get an obnoxious buzzer instead, but at least it wakes you up. Not that I wake up to Yanni.
Another nice feature of the clock is that it sets itself automatically. Using a button on the back of the iH5R you indicate which time zone you are located in and the device does the rest, including compensating for daylight savings time. So far this feature has worked just fine.
The alarm clock includes all the features you would expect from a normal clock radio. The alarm is easy to set, features an “alarm reset” function that will shut off the alarm and reset it for the same time the next day, and and has a battery backup in case of a power failure.
Another nice feature that the iHome includes is the “Sleep” function. This allows you to fall asleep to music from your iPod, or the AM/FM radio. The sleep timer can be set to 120, 90, 60, 30, or 15 minutes. Another nice part of the sleep timer is that you can adjust the music volume without affecting the normal listening volume or the wake volume. This is an original function that I have not seen very often on other sleep timer equipped devices, and is much appreciated.
One thing to keep in mind about the wake to iPod function is that you will wake up to whatever song was playing on your iPod when it was last turned off or stopped. This means that you will not be able to fall asleep to your favorite PodCast and wake up to Metallica, unless you time your sleep timer and playlist impeccably.
The iH5R features iHome’s Reson8 Sound Chamber Technology. Reson8 refers specifically to their deep-port sound chamber paired with a two-inch speaker, ostensibly created to produce high quality sound. The overall sound quality of the iHome is surprisingly good for a multi-function device. It is not spectacular, but I would not expect anything amazing from a hundred dollar device that crams so many functions into one box. Distortion is minimal at high volume, and the iH5R will fill up a good sized room with music from your iPod.
Two related features of the iH5R that are not included in many of the more expensive stereo systems are the auxiliary audio input and line-out audio output. The auxiliary input makes the system compatible with all iPods including the non-docking models (the Shuffle and all iPods before the third generation models), although it does not allow a wake to auxiliary port function. The line out port is also quite nice, and allows the iH5R to act as an iPod dock for a larger stereo system.
The iH5R, unlike the original iH5, also includes a remote control. Previously when iHome released the original iH5 they did not include a remote in the box. The company did offer an after-market remote for $19.99, which resulted in much griping from consumers. Apparently the company heard customers’ complaints and now offers the remote in the box, but only on the iH5R model. For some reason the iH5R costs $99.99 just like the iH5, which leads me to believe that eventually the iH5R will be the only system available.
Lastly, the iH5R is available in white or black to match the new fifth generation iPods. Both colors are the same price.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the iH5R. The many features that it offers are a steal at only $99.99. The sound quality is acceptable for the price, and the alarm function is user-friendly. I would highly recommend the iH5R to anyone who needs a bedroom iPod stereo system.