iHome iH8 iPod speaker alarm clock

The clock radio is a familiar site in the bedrooms of old people all over the country. The under-60s, however, probably do not have one nestling next to a teasmaid and a large print library book.

The iH8 hopes to change all that by bringing clock radio technology bang up to date. Well, by adding an iPod into the mix at any rate.

This iPod alarm clock from iHome allows you to both wake up and fall asleep to your favourite iPod tunes, or the radio if you prefer, while it recharges your player overnight.

Shame that iHome have not gone for a more radical and attractive design, the traditional clock radio look is never going to have the hip young things salivating over it.

Still, the form is good for the function in that it is highly stable so when you are scrambling around for that snooze button in the morning you won’t send the unit and your iPod flying off the bedside table.

In fact, the concept itself is nothing new and iHome have been making iPod alarm clocks for a few years now. The iH5 was something of a hit, becoming the best selling iPod accessory in the US for a time.

The design remains much the same, but the iH8 adds an equalizer for bass, treble and balance control, the ability to turn the display light off, 12 preset FM/AM radio stations, and a programmable sleep function with five different time schedules with gradually decreasing volume level that can be set independently of wake volume.

Perhaps the most interesting new feature, though, is the dual alarm functionality. iHome reckon this is so that you and your partner can wake up at different times to separate alarms without having to hit the reset button.

Obviously they have never slept with my partner, or they would realise that once she wakes up there is no reset – you have no choice but to get up yourself! Seriously though, it’s a decent enough feature and easy enough to use. Setting the alarms is delightfully easy and you can choose to wake up to your iPod, the radio or an annoying buzzer if you must. A set of backup batteries ensure you don’t sleep through if there is a power cut.

The iH8 is compatible with all docking iPods and comes with a selection of docking inserts to ensure a good fit. Unfortunately, you can’t connect an iPod in a case – or so says the documentation. My rubber iSkin Evo clad video iPod was a snug fit without any docking adaptor fitted it has to be said. There’s also a line-in port for shuffle users, or those with a non-iPod MP3 player.

The remote control is hugely naff though. With distinct lag in use, and poor directional capability which makes it all but useless when you are half asleep and snuggled up under the covers. Shame, as it is quite fully featured even allowing for radio tuning and equaliser adjustment as well as snoozing.

Audio-wise the iH8 is OK, nothing more and nothing less, but then it doesn’t cost a fortune so you shouldn’t expect too rich a soundstage. As a bedside clock radio it is perfectly adequate, but you wouldn’t want to listen to the thin bass and slightly puny overall sound in the living room.

Verdict

iHome invented the iPod clock radio market, and have upped the stakes with the iH8.

It does not have the greatest looks, nor the greatest sound, but if you want to go to sleep and wake up to your iPod you can’t do it better for any less money than this.