Somebody you love looking for a portable speaker system to go along with their favorite iOS device? The long-awaited iW1 AirPlay speaker from iHome is finally here. There may be a million iOS docks, thousands of wireless speakers employing different streaming protocols, and even a fair number of AirPlay devices on the market right now, but there isn’t any actual competition for this device. Powered by a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it’s the first truly wire-free AirPlay speaker.
The iW1 is about as simple to set up as any Wi-Fi device I’ve handled, and as simple as it should be for a device aimed squarely at Apple fans. The free iHome Connect app does the heavy lifting: Download it, fire it up, look for your network’s SSID (you can’t enter the SSID of a hidden network, so you’ll have to decloak to connect the iW1), enter your password, and you’re ready to go. No buttons to hold down or cryptic LED blinking patterns to keep track of here. Should anything confuse you, a handy support page on iHome’s site will be glad to walk you through whatever problem you’re having.
Like a number of small speakers we’ve heard this year, the iHome iW1 sounds quite good within its limitations. At 13 watts per side, its dual 3-inch woofers and pair of 1-inch tweeters (managed by Bongiovi’s DPS enhancement software) deliver what everybody likes to call “room-filling sound,” but you can’t expect an iW1 speaker to, say, provide the music for a large party.
The iW1’s modest power output and easy portability make it a perfectly appropriate companion for working in the home office, doing the dishes, or tinkering in the garage. Nice for the yard or deck, too, provided your Wi-Fi network reaches out there. You might be tempted to take the iHome iW1 speaker to the beach, but make sure it has public wireless before you do, or be prepared to set up a mobile hotspot with your smartphone. It’s a speaker to enjoy rather than analyze, for sure, but within its limitations, it does a great job. – Michael Berk
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