Often, listening to an iPod (or other MP3 player) is not practical, as you need to be able to hear what is going on around you as well as your music. But unless you invest what can amount to a great deal of money into a docking system, there really aren't a whole lot of options available...or at least not that many with decent sound quality. Friends had been telling me about the iHome speakers for months, so I jumped at the chance to see if it would fit the bill.
The iHome IHM2BC is designed to work with pretty much any MP3 player, as long as it has a headphone jack. We received this iPod speaker from Geeks.com for testing, so we hooked it up to see how it performs.
Very simply packaged, the iHM2BC shows you exactly what you're getting through the blister pack. It's billed as a go anywhere/play anything stereo speaker system, and uses Reson8 sound chamber technology to bring your tunes to life.
The unit is triangular-shaped, with the speakers facing out either end. It includes a short audio patch cord (3.5mm) so you can play your tunes from whatever device you might have, be it an actual iPod, a phone, or some other MP3 player. You'll need four AAA batteries to get started, but that's all you need to bring to the party. I hooked up my ancient iPod Nano to see what it could do for me.
Let's Take a Look at It
The iHM2BC looks very attractive, and is small enough to fit on just about any desk, or even on your car's dashboard if you're on a road trip (3 x 4.5 x 3 inches, approximately). It has its own on/off switch (be sure to turn it off when not in use to save your batteries), and there is a sliding door on the back where you can store the audio patch cord. There is also a tray on the front that will slide out to hold your MP3 player, making it easier to see what's playing. It also makes it simple to move the entire unit from one place to another, in case you're not working at your desk.
Let's Get Rockin'
I did an informal experiment, and turned the volume up so loud it was almost uncomfortable next to the speaker. Then I walked away from it to see how far away it could be heard. This will easily give you sound throughout a large room, and it can be heard without straining from two rooms away. Of course, that's in my house, so wall placement will be a factor elsewhere. To have it sitting next to me on the table, the most comfortable volume for me (and those in other parts of the house) is about 40-60%.
Overall, this gets five out of five stars from me. It's compact, inexpensive at around ten bucks, easy to keep in my laptop bag, and self-contained. The sound quality is certainly not of professional grade, but then I didn't expect that. If you want to listen to music without having to deal with earbuds, I would highly recommend picking one of these up. The batteries last longer than the battery in my iPod did, although not quite twice as long.
It is important to note that the iHM2BC will not charge your audio device, and if you're using a phone for your audio it can cause interference in the sound if a call comes in. It is recommended that you use airplane mode when listening to music from a phone.