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iHome Bedside Stereo Speaker System for Amazon Echo Dot review: This Echo Dot clock dock costs a lot

On paper, it's as much of a no-brainer as that original iPod dock. After all, plenty of people -- myself included -- already keep an Echo Dot on their nightstand and use it to wake up in the morning. Why not commit to the bit and dock that Dot in a clock, complete with better sound quality?

In my case, the price tag gives me pause. This thing costs $70 ($20 more than Echo Dot costs by itself), and it really offers nothing beyond a clockface, a modest bump in sound quality and an extra USB port to charge your devices. The iAVS1 might be a tempting upgrade if you catch it on sale, but at full price, I'm not sure it's worth the splurge.

Testing out an iHome alarm clock dock for the Amazon Echo Dot. Better speakers and a built-in clock to boot. Here's a sound comparison. pic.twitter.com/epbb7SrkFl

— Ry Crist (@rycrist) June 7, 2017

Let's start with that design. Available in both white and black, the dock itself is fairly large as alarm clocks go, with an upward-facing speaker spanning its top face. iHome pitches it as a stereo speaker system, and it definitely offers fuller sound than what you'll get from an Echo Dot on its own. To my ear, though, it's a fairly modest improvement -- I wonder if the addition of forward-facing speakers on the front of the dock would have helped.

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Using the dock is a cinch. Just pop Alexa into place, then connect the short-length audio cable and an included short-length USB cable into the central USB port to keep the Dot powered. The top half-inch or so of your Dot will stick out of the device -- that's because iHome wanted to make sure that people with first-gen Echo Dots could still access the ring around the top of the speaker that controls the volume. The reason that's important? The iAVS1 doesn't have volume controls of its own, and instead relies entirely on the Echo Dot.

In fact, the iAVS1 hardly has any controls of its own. There's a button on top to adjust the brightness of the clock and a set of buttons on the bottom of the dock that you'll use to set the time, but that's it. No volume controls, no radio and no snooze button: All of it gets outsourced to Alexa.

People who use an Echo Dot to wake up in the morning are already used to grumbling at Alexa to shut the alarm off as opposed to slapping a snooze button, but I still think iHome could have done more here. Simple audio controls would have been a nice start -- a button you could pair with one of iHome's smart plugs to turn a lamp on and off from across the room would have been even better. Features like that would have gone a long way to help justify the $70 price tag. Instead, they're missed opportunities.

With the Dot's array of microphones surrounded by the iHome dock's speaker, it's slightly harder for Alexa to hear you over audio playback. pic.twitter.com/oovuBIAgaT

— Ry Crist (@rycrist) June 7, 2017

Something else worth mentioning: The microphones at the top of your Echo Dot might have a harder time hearing you during music playback because of the amplified sound coming from the dock's speaker.

To test this out, I took the iAVS1 into a quiet room, cranked some local Louisville rock up to 75 percent volume, then tried talking to Alexa at three distances: a foot away, a few feet away and several feet away. Up close, the Echo Dot heard me say "Alexa" on the first try. But from a few feet away, it took two tries. From across the room, it took three. By comparison, an Echo Dot on its own in the same test heard me on the first attempt from all three distances.

That's a pretty minor annoyance (most Alexa users have come to learn that raising your voice is an occasional necessity), but again, I wonder if front-facing speakers that blast music in your direction instead of straight up at the Dot's array of microphones wouldn't have been a better design choice. 

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The verdict

As I mentioned before, I use an Echo Dot to wake me up each morning -- but I also keep a small clock next to it for quick, groggy glances at the time while I'm in bed. A dock that essentially combines the two is a no-brainer product that I'd welcome to my nightstand if someone got it for me as a gift. But to spend $70 of my own money on it, I'd need it to offer more than just a convenient spot for my Dot and a slight uptick in sound quality, especially given that likable, fully-featured competitors like Beddi don't cost all that much more.

With no additional features to speak of -- no programmable smart buttons, no playback controls, no built-in wake-up light -- that's the mark that iHome misses here. The iAVS1 is a decent enough device, but it's too basic to justify the $70 price tag. Wake me up when it's on sale, though.

EDITOR'S NOTE, 4:15 PM EST, 7/7/2017: This review originally stated that iHome's alarm clock dock required you keep the Echo Dot plugged in separately. It actually includes a short-length USB cable that plugs from the Echo Dot into the back of the clock's base to keep it powered, a fact I simply missed during testing. The text of the review has been updated accordingly, and the score has increased slightly, but the overall buying recommendation remains unchanged.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/ihome-iavs1-bedside-stereo-speaker-system-for-amazon-echo-dot-review/

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Special Note: These items work with Echo Dot Second Generation, not Third Generation - those won't fit, sorry!

 

iHome iAV2B Bedside / Home Office Amazon Echo Dot Docking Speaker System

Key Features:

  • Echo Dot alarm clock specially designed for Amazon (works with 2nd Gen, not included)
  • Let Alexa control your home from the bedside. Echo Dot works with iHome smart plugs (sold separately) and many more smart home solutions.
  • Enjoy room-filling music with Alexa
  • 1 A USB charging for mobile devices
  • Display dimmer with 5 levels of brightness control
  • Passive subwoofer for enhanced bass
  • Large negative backlit clock display

Enhanced audio sound, glanceable clock display, USB phone charging and beautiful modern aesthetic create the perfect bedside solution.

The Spot for your Dot

Unleash the power of Alexa with this Echo Dot alarm clock - the perfect bedside solution. Wake to alarms and control smart home devices via Amazon Echo Dot.

Turn the Dot into an amazing alarm clock

'Alexa, play hits on iHeartRadio'.

'Alexa, set sleep timer for 45 minutes'.

'Alexa, set an alarm for 7am'.

Deliver an enhanced Echo Dot bedside experience with a dedicated clock display, room filling sound with passive radiator for extra bass and convenient USB charging for your mobile devices.

Docking Solution

An Echo Dot dock specially designed for Amazon (works with 2nd Gen Echo Dot).

Room-filling Sound

Enjoy better sound quality with Reson8 speaker chamber technology.

2 USB Ports + aux-in

Dedicated 1 Amp micro USB and aux-in connection for Amazon Echo Dot with additional 1 Amp USB port to charge other devices.

Acoustic fabric grill with bright clock LEDs

Dimmable LED with 5 levels of brightness control.

 

iHome iAV5 Portable Speaker for Echo Dot Gen 2: Stereo speakers with unique color changing LEDs

Key Features:

  • Echo Dot Bluetooth Speaker specially designed for Amazon (works with 2nd Gen, not included).
  • The iAV5 is perfect for using Alexa and your Dot from room to room and even out on the deck. Keeps you in contact with Alexa throughout the house. (Wi-Fi Required)
  • Wirelessly stream Audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device.
  • 5 Color changing modes: slow blend, fast blend, favorite Color, Pulse to music, and preset Pulse
  • Control your home from the bedside. This Amazon Echo Dot dock works with iHome smartplugs (sold separately) and many more smart home solutions.
  • 360 degree stereo sound with passive radiator for room filling sound 
  • Docking Solution – dedicated MicroUSB cable connection to power Echo Dot

The Spot for your Dot

An Amazon Echo Dot dock with integrated charging & Bluetooth audio connections to enhance your Alexa experience.

Rechargeable Battery

This Echo Dot speaker is perfect for using Alexa from room to room and even out on the deck! Works anywhere within your wifi network with up to 8 hours of wireless audio playback.

Echo Dot Docking

Designed for the Amazon Echo Dot, Generation 2.

5 LED Color Changing Modes

Slow fade, fast change, favorite color, pulse to music & preset pulsing.

Power & Connect

Easy connection cable and Bluetooth controls.

Enhanced Sound

Bluetooth Audio with Integrated Passive Subwoofer.

 

Shipping Note: Shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, and PO Boxes is not available for this item

Warranty: One Year iHome Warranty

Sours: https://electronics.woot.com/offers/ihome-speakers-for-amazon-echo-dot-1
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