Tricking out your iPod has long been a fun pastime, and the trend continues with iHome's dual-alarm iH12 Clock Radio for iPod. While this cubed accessory can definitely wake you up, we'd like to see a little more audio oomph for our $79.99.
Snazzy, Functional Design
Our iH12 was black, but you can get it in pink, too. It's a sleek cubed alarm clock with an iPod dock on top. Measuring 5.2 x 5.0 x 5.0 inches, the 5-pound iH12 will have a small footprint on your nightstand but is still heavy enough that you won't knock it over while groping around in the dark for the snooze button. That particular button and the other buttons on the iH12 are easy to navigate and use in the dark, thanks to a rubberized panel with raised letters and symbols situated in front of the iPod dock. The front of the iH12 is about 75 percent speaker cover with the upper right-hand corner reserved for an LED with the time, date, iPod, and alarm indicators.
The first step in setting up the iH12 is picking out the correct iPod insert, which supports the iPod when it is docked. Four inserts are included in the box with the iH12, and the manual depicts which insert to use with your iPod model and generation. We tested this dock with a fifth-generation iPod with video and a second-generation iPod nano. Although the manual didn't specifically state which of the included inserts should be used for this generation of nano, it worked fine with the same insert as the 5G iPod. If your iPod does not fit properly, you can buy additional inserts from the company's site for $5.99 each.
Additionally, the iH12 features a scan-tuning radio with 12 station presets and an AUX/MP3 line-in. The included eighth-inch cord for the line-in is helpful if you have a third generation (the one with four buttons across the top) or earlier iPod, since the iH12 does not support these. Like all other speaker docks, the iH12 charges your iPod while docked.
Waking Up with the iH12
Using the iPod with the iH12 was a breeze. Select a song, start playing it on your iPod, then plug the iPod into the dock. Power, Volume, Play, Pause, and Previous/Next Song are all available through both the interface on the top of the clock and the remote control. You can also choose to wake up to your iPod. Select what you want to hear the night before because the iH12 defaults alphabetically to the first artist and song in your catalogue. Trust us: Waking up to AFI's "Miseria Cantare," isn't the best way to start your day.
If you forget to dock your iPod at night, the iH12 will default to the buzzer, which is an insistent beeping that gradually gets louder instead of a traditional buzzing sound. Waking up to the radio is also an option. The iH12 has two alarms for setting multiple wake times as well as a battery backup that will remember the time and alarm settings in case of a power outage. Lastly, the iH12 comes with a daylight savings time switch that automatically advances or reverses the clock one hour. Although this is a nice feature, we don't think an action you'll perform twice a year warrants its own switch.
While the iH12 works great as an alarm clock, it's not meant to be even a mini-stereo replacement. It features stereo speakers with a passive subwoofer and a 3D sound effect. The 3D effect is enabled by default and primarily serves to increase high- and low-end sounds and overall loudness. The sound is loud enough to fill a regular-sized bedroom, and with the volume cranked, the iH12 could fill a small studio apartment. However, with the 3D effect on, the bass was thin. In Smashing Pumpkins' "I Am One," the bass was almost indistinguishable from the lower guitar sounds. Likewise, the cymbals in Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" also lost distinction among the chorus singing throughout the song.
One of our favorite ways to use this system is for watching a movie or TV show before going to bed. With the iH12 sitting on a nightstand, we could comfortably catch up with Lost while lying in bed, without fear of rolling over on our iPod in the middle of the night. The clock features a timed sleep feature that does not affect the alarm clock volume and works well for falling asleep to a movie or album.
The iH12 is an alarm clock first and an entertainment device second. With a dual-alarm system that gradually gains volume, an easy-to-find snooze button, and the options of awaking to an iPod, radio, or buzzer, it's a good deal; this device is completely committed to waking you up. But if you're looking to replace a small stereo or boombox, we suggest looking to a dedicated dock, such asJBL On Stage.