iHome iDM11 Rechargeable Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Funky, geometric design; Can be used as speakerphone; Distorted bass;

The Cons

Relatively hard to hold; Mediocre battery life

Verdict

The cube-shaped iHome iDM11 has a unique shape and features speakerphone capabilities, but its mediocre battery life and hollow audio miss the mark.

Compatible with iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, the cube-shaped iHome iDM11 Bluetooth speaker sports a funky design and speakerphone capabilities. Does its performance live up to the $69.99 price?

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Design

Like an all-black Rubik's Cube, the squarish 3.9 x 3.9 x 4.5-inch iHome iDM11 weighs 11.1 ounces, easily the heaviest of all the Bluetooth speakers we've recently tested. Although we like the look of the geometric design, its edges are rather sharp, making it awkward to hold. One corner of the iDM11 has been sliced off, so the device seems to jut forward, with the speaker facing front.

On the back of the device are buttons for Bluetooth/Speakerphone/Play/Pause, Volume Up and Down, and Power. There's also a switch to enable Bluetooth as well as a microUSB port. However, their placement on the back makes it difficult to control the device.

Note: In the users' manual, iHome says to put a protective cloth in between the speaker and natural wood or lacquered furniture, which indicates that it could potentially scratch those surfaces.

Setup

When the iDM11 was fully charged, we turned it on by holding down the power button for about two seconds, and it made a short beeping noise while the bottom lit up blue. We then flipped the switch on the bottom to Bluetooth mode; the device beeped again and the blue light began flashing blue and red. Once finished pairing with our iPhone, the speaker beeped once more and the flashing lights turned back to just blue.

To turn the device off, we simply held the power button down for about four seconds until the blue light flashed red and the device beeped. We wish we didn't have to hold the button down for that long, but we appreciate the tone that confirms it's turning off.

Performance

The sound quality from the iDM11 was good, but it wasn't on a par with some of the other Bluetooth speakers we've tested. When we played Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" on low-to-medium volume, the soulful singer's vocals, which are normally smooth and full of depth, came out somewhat wispy and weak. And although piano notes came out crisp and clear, the bass struggled, scratching and breaking. At full volume, the speaker easily filled a large room, but bass was noticeably distorted.

After about five minutes of not being in use, the speaker turned off automatically to save battery, which we appreciate. The iDM11 also stopped playing audio when we went behind a partition in our apartment, even though we were within 10 feet of the device.

The iDM11 also supports speakerphone capabilities. Calls came through clearly, and our caller said they could hear us well on the other end. However, calls on the Genius SP-900BT sounded a bit better.

Battery Life

iHome says the iDM11 can deliver music for up to 10 hours, but when we tested the speaker's battery life, we only got 5 hours and 25 minutes at midvolume. While this is nearly twice as long as the Veho (2:45), it's nowhere near the DBEST's epic endurance of almost 22 hours. The Genius SP-900BT lasted about 16 hours, but the last 13 or so was at a diminished volume.

iHome said it takes 3.5 to 4.5 hours to fully charge its device, but it only took us 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Verdict

Although we wanted to like the iHome iDM11 because of its innovative, funky design and speakerphone capabilities, its audio performance is not on the same level as class-leading devices like the Satechi ST-69BTS Audio Cube. If having speakerphone functionality is important, we recommend the Genius SP-900BT Bluetooth speaker, which costs about $20 less, and sounds better, too.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Accessories Type Speakers
Accessories Type Speaker Docks
Battery Type/Life
Size 3.9 x 3.9 x 4.5 inches
Weight 11.1 ounces
Company Website http://www.iHomeaudio.com