iLuv's Vibro II is an iPhone/iPod docking station that seeks to solve the problem of users sleeping through their alarms. The solution? A small black cube that vibrates on your nightstand whenever your alarm goes off. But the Vibro II is more than just a gimmick. It also includes a first-rate app, as well as a solid pair of speakers. Not bad at all for $80.
Weighing 1 pound and measuring 9 x 3 x 3 inches, the Vibro II is fairly light and compact compared to some competing alarm docks, such as the Philips DC390 (3.1 pounds, 10.4 x 9.6 x 6.3 inches) and the Stem Time Command (1.6 pounds, 7.6 around and 3.3 inches tall). Doubling as the unit's legs, the speakers create a valley in which the Vibro II's dock and controls reside. Our unit came in black, but you can buy the Vibro II in blue, pink or white if you're looking for a little personality.
The symmetrical design continues with the controls, two large circular buttons located on either side of the connector dock. The buttons control everything from the audio output mode and alarm settings to the volume and track selection. Between the buttons is a rocker that controls the alarm's sleep timer and time sync.
The Vibro II features a large LCD seated between the speakers. The display was somewhat hard to read under brighter lighting, even with the brightness turned all the way up. However, determining which alarm was set was easy, since only active alarms are displayed. The rear of the Vibro II offers a power port, Aux-in and output for the included alarm Shaker.
The Shaker is basically a roughly 2 x 2 x 0.5-inch black cube that sits next to your bed. Its extra-long 6-foot cord allowed us to place it as close or far from us as we'd like.
Setup and interface
As it should be for an alarm dock, setting up the Vibro II was a snap. We just plugged in the A/C adapter and Shaker in the back of the unit and placed our iPhone 4S onto the dock. Our iPhone then prompted us to download the app for the Vibro II from the App Store. There are currently two apps available for the Vibro II: Alarm Clock HD by iLuv and the iLuv App. We downloaded both just to be safe. Oddly, the apps both featured the same layout and functionality, so we deleted the iLuv App and chose to use the Alarm Clock HD app instead.
Despite the initial confusion, we found the Alarm Clock HD by iLuv app to be one of the best among iPhone alarm clocks. The indicator bar at the bottom of the screen let us choose between the clock, weather, radio, iPod and menu screens. The default homescreen features a large clock, as well as the current weather and temperature. Swiping from right to left allows you to choose between a "retro," digital, analog and world clock design. Tapping the option menu at the top of the screen provides access to the alarm controls, sleep timer, clock format and color theme.
Tapping the weather icon in the indicator bar pulls up the current weather conditions, as well as the five-day and six- to 10-day forecasts. Tapping the radio icon provides access to a host of Internet radio stations, while the iPod icon lets you tap into your music collection. Our one complaint about the app is that it doesn't include an equalizer component, a feature many other alarm docks offer.
Beyond its excellent app, the Vibro II's best feature is its Shaker alarm accessory. As its name suggests, the Shaker, which is included as part of the system, vibrates when your alarm goes off. During our testing we found that the Shaker vibrated about about as much as a smartphone. While that's not exactly earthquake-level, you can always move it as close as you like without worrying about radiating your head while you sleep.
The iLuv Vibro II's large speakers produced accurate and pleasant sound. The harmonies in Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild" sounded crisp and the thump of the bass-heavy opening was satisfying. The guitar rich sounds of 36 Crazy Fists sounded just as clean; the guttural growls of the lead singer didn't drown out the backing vocals or instrumentals. That said, the Vibro II's speakers couldn't match the power of the Philips DC390, which produced enough bass to shake a large table.
The iLuv Vibro II is a great alarm dock that offers one of the most full-featured apps available, and the Shaker accessory is effective at waking heavy sleepers. If you're looking for something that offers a more immersive music experience, we'd suggest Philips' $149 DC390 alarm dock. But for $79.99, you'd be hard-pressed to find a docking station that's better than the iLuv.