When you think of the iHome brand, chances are your familiar with their compact clock radio speaker systems. These inexpensive devices sound great and scored highly in our reviews, but lately the company has been stepping things up a bit, entering into an entirely new territory focused more on audio performance.
The iHome iP1 debuted the company’s new line of performance-based audio products, named to be their “Studio Line.” Being the first product in this new line, the iP1 showed consumers that the company means business and their latest “Studio Line” iP3 is no exception.
Offering up to 50 watts of power along with Bongiovi Digital Power Station technology which specializes to better enhance and restore lost details due to audio compression, the iP3, iPod/iPhone audio system packs a punch of power and is sure not to go unnoticed. Music on the device sounded great and audio levels were excellent for the small overall size of the unit. If loudness is what you are looking for, you will be very pleased with the iP3 as the unit cranks and will just blow you away in terms of volume, despite the idea you might get from its small form factor.
The Bongiovi Digital Power Station technology is exclusive to both the iP3 and iP1 and is without a doubt worth mentioning. Sound quality when using the technology was very good as opposed to when the technology was turned off which was dull and almost computer speaker sounding. We decided to really put the technology to the test by playing a few of our favorite tracks and toggling on and off the Bongiovi technology just to see how much of a difference it made. When enabled, music sounded loud, crisp and had a strong base and when switched off, tones sounded dull and low quality.
From first glance, the product offers a basic, yet compact design featuring an all black body with a transparent border that obtrudes from out and around the speakers. This makes for a unique design allowing the product to be placed practically anywhere and blend in with the surrounding background. On the front of the unit, between the two speakers houses an adjustable iPod dock that no longer requires an iPods inserts — definitely a nice plus. Toward the bottom of the system, you will find the audio controls, which from left to right include the Bongiovi on/off button, power button, and volume up/down controls. Finally along the backside of the unit you will find a power port, component video out connection and a line in port, giving you the ability to connect other devices to the unit rather than just an iPod.
We’re very pleased to see iHome included a component video out port on this device. If you are unfamiliar with what this is, it allows for the video on your iPod to be displayed on an external television or other type of display.
While the unit does sound great, there are some shortfalls to mention, with the price being the number one con of this device. At almost $200, this product is quite costly and we’re not sure it’s worth its high price tag. The iP3 sounds nice, but it has some tough competition out there, the Sony MHC EC709iP being on top of the list. This 180-watt system is $50 less and offers some added functionality like an AM/FM tuner, which isn’t available on the IP3.
It would have also been nice to have seen support for the iHome+Sleep application like featured on the A5. The iP3 does not offer any type of alarm clock functionality, which is what made iHome famous in the first place
Overall we’re pleased with the performance, design and portability of the iP3, but it’s not perfect and lacks a few features that should come with a hefty price tag.