Viewed categorically, the iD50 is what iHome says it is: a clock radio that displays time, sounds alarms, and tunes AM/FM radio. But the iD50 actually does quite a bit more than all that. It’s an iPad speaker/charging dock with Bluetooth so you can stream audio from your portable or tablet. A built-in mike lets you use it as a speakerphone. And with the iHome+Sleep app running on your iPad/ iPhone, you can program the iD50 to do pretty cool things like wake you up at a different time each day of the week to different songs from your iTunes library, or to one of the vast number of Internet radio stations from all around the world compiled by TuneIn.
The black-and-silver iD50 is compact enough to place on just about any nightstand or shelf. Its large LED display offers eight dimming steps, and it also gives you day/date info along with time. A charge/sync dock on top is backed by a rubber pad that can firmly support your iPad/Phone without scratching its shiny surface. Also on top are buttons to manually control functions like alarm settings, volume, source selection (along with dock, Bluetooth, and AM/FM radio, there’s a minijack input on back for other devices), and radio presets. A small remote control that duplicates those functions is included, and there’s also that must-have feature for any clock radio: a snooze button.
A pair of front-facing drivers on the iD50 provide decent enough clock-radio sound, particularly when SRS Wow enhancement is enabled. Things began to break up when I pushed the volume level, but for listening to classical/jazz music or Internet radio news at bedtime-appropriate levels, the iD50’s clear midrange served it just fine. While I got better sound quality with my device docked, I ended up tapping the Bluetooth connection for a wide range of iPad uses: watching Netflix movies and streamed Hulu Plus TV shows, playing cool games like Osmosis and Contre Jour, listening to background music via Slacker and Rdio while reading on my iPad — the list goes on. The iD50’s ability to accommodate such uses, along with reliably waking you up and charging your iPad, makes it a gift worth giving (or receiving, hint, hint). — Al Griffin
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