Review: iHome iD9

Easy to use speaker system and charging dock for your iOS devices. (May 27th, 2011)

The 3-pound iHome iD9 Portable Rechargeable Speaker System charges your iPhone, iPod, or iPad while you play music, and runs off batteries when you want to use it where a power outlet is not accessible.

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Product Manufacturer: iHome, div. of SDI Technologies

Price: $99.00 US

The Good

  • Good sound quality.
  • Battery lasts longer than the iPad battery.
  • Simple to use.
  • Easy to insert original iPad, iPhone, or iPad.

The Bad

  • Use with the iPad 2 requires an additional adapter.
  • Large for portable speakers.
  • Heavy to carry around.

The iHome iD9 Portable Rechargeable Speaker System for iPad/iPhone/iPod is a simple, easy to use speaker system and charging station for your iOS devices. (For the balance of this review, I will refer to the iPad or iOS devices to cover all of them.) It charges your iOS device while you play music, and runs off batteries when you want to use it where a power outlet is not accessible.

The Package

The box contains only three items: The iD9, an A/C adapter, a pair of small rubber bumpers, and a plastic bag with two short manuals - one in French and one in English. iHome warns that the initial charge of the battery can take up to six hours. The unit I received came partially charged, so I finished the initial charging in about 80 minutes.

iD9 with iPad

iD9 with iPad

The power supply for the iD9 is a "wall wart" with a round connector. I would have preferred an USB-based power system, but the power supply is rated at 25W (2.75A at 9V), which is about 10x more power than a single USB port can provide.

Set Up

The iD9 is easy to set up, and measures 12.9 x 2 x 4.06 inches. It doesn't seem that heavy, but it weighs 3 1/4 lbs. I think it is rather large for a portable speaker. On the front are two controls-the switches on the left raise and lower the volume, and the power switch is on the right with the battery charge indicator.

controls

Controls Blend Into the iD9

iHome provides a pair of small rubber bumpers, which are about 2" long and 1/8" wide and thick. They are designed to go into a pair of small depressions in the docking area of the iD9 and support your iPad when it is on the dock. If your iPad lives in a case, the case may be thick enough on the bottom so that the bumpers are not necessary.

iHome also sells an optional remote ($20) that allows you to control the operation of the iD9 from a distance. If you choose not to purchase the remote, iHome has put a switch on the back of the unit that lets you conserve power when on battery, by not powering the receiver for the remote. I did not receive the remote for this review.

The iD9 has a rubber base that keeps it from slipping around on smooth surfaces. This is a nice feature, since the last thing you want to happen when dock your iPad is to have the dock slide away from you. However, the instruction booklet that comes with the iD9 suggests that you: "Protect your furniture when placing your unit on a natural wood and lacquered finish. A cloth or other protective material should be placed between it and the furniture." I tried that, and it defeated the purpose of having the rubber bottom on the unit; when I tried to insert the iPad one-handed, the iD9 slid off my desk.

controls

iD9 with iPhone

The dock connector on the iD9 is on a hinge. This makes it very easy to insert your iPad into the iD9. You slide the iPad in from the top, and when it touches the dock connector, pivot the bottom of the iPad forward. The dock connector slides right in, and this works whether or not you have your iPad in a case, but very thick cases may not work.

controls

Hinged Dock Connector

I was unable to dock an iPad 2 into the iD9. The curved back of the iPad 2 prevents the dock connector from pivoting into the correct orientation. iHome has an adapter that allows you to use the iD9 with the iPad 2, but you have to 1) know that it exists, and 2) go to a particular page on iHome's site to request the adapter, and 3) wait for them ship you the adapter. The adapter is not mentioned in the documentation or on the iD9 product page. iHome says that the iPad 2 insert will be included in all new production units.

Sound

The sound that the iD9 produces is quite nice; I had no complaints. It reproduced the fine structure of guitar and drum solos. While it didn't "rock the house" on a heavy bass track, it did better than I expected for a set of portable speakers. iHome has incorporated SRS TruBass and Reson8 technologies into the iD9 for improved sound, but says nothing on how the technologies work.

When I played the MacNN audio test MP3 files, I could hear the pure 12K Hz tone, and my daughter could hear the 13K Hz and 14K Hz tones as well. On the bottom end, it played the 20 Hz tone without much distortion.

Battery Power

The internal battery on the iD9 is designed to play your music, not to charge the iPad. I set up a fully charged iPod nano and iD9, and put it on shuffle and repeat, with the volume at about 25%, suitable for a quiet room. The iD9 has four indicator lights on the front to show the level of battery remaining. The first light went out at three hours, the second at about 6 hours 15 minutes, so I'm extrapolating that to estimate that you get between 12 and 13 hours of battery life - longer than your iPad will last.

controls

iD9 Controls

There is also a line-in jack on the back for playing music from other sources. The manual mentions that you shouldn't plug something into the line-in jack while playing music from a docked iPad, otherwise you could get sound from both sources at the same time.

There is really very little complexity to the iD9. You attach in your iOS device and play - either while plugged into the power supply or on battery. If you have an iPad 2, I would not recommend these speakers, due to the problems with the dock connector. While I like this speaker system, iHome doesn't make it clear that it isn't compatible with the iPad2 out of the box and it is over a foot long.

The iD9 has a list price of $99.99 and is available direct from iHome as well as several online retailers. iHome also has two iOS applications that they claim work well in concert with the iD9. I tested the free alarm clock app iHome+Sleep, which worked well, even without the iD9 attached to my iPad. I did not test the iHome+Radio app ($1.99) that lets you listen to Internet radio.

Related Reviews

iHome iDM12 (5/2011)

iHome iP88 (10/2009)

iHome Dual Alarm Cube Clock (6/2008)

iHome iP99 Alarm Clock (6/2008)

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Marshall Clow


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