Make sure to check out our full review of the iHome iP76 iPhone and iPod speaker dock.
There comes a time in a technology’s life-cycle when it migrates from tool to toy. What was once an expensive technology –out of reach for all but the wealthy and/or a small segment of early adopters– will eventually trickle down into plastic-clad products targeted at preschoolers. A relatively recent case in point: the touch-screen tablet. Vtech, for example, makes the Innotab, a touch-screen learning and entertainment device with big buttons and flashy colors, approved for kids 3-9 years old. It even has a built-in digital camera.
This phenomenon has now taken place with Bluetooth wireless audio streaming. Check out the iHome iP76 LED color changing tower stereo speaker system with Bluetooth for iPhone and iPod. For $200 you get a 3-foot tall plastic tower with four speakers and enough LED lights to illuminate your imagination; or, at least the corner of a small room.
The top of the tower is fitted with a 30-pin connector for use with most iPhones and iPods, but the built-in Bluetooth receiver allows it to work with any Bluetooth device wirelessly. On-board buttons allow control of the lighting feature as well as basic functions like track navigation and volume, but a remote control is also included.
Four speaker drivers line the front of the tower while LED’s run along the length of the back side. White plastic panels on the left and right help to soften and disperse the light, which is available in eight colors including indigo, blue, green, white, orange, red, violet and yellow. The lighting can be set to remain solid on your favorite color, slowly fade, pulse to the music, dazzle you with a strobe effect or provide a moody, ambient glow.
iHome sent an iP76 to us for evaluation, so we played around with it for a little bit. Practically speaking, the lighting feature does provide an ambient effect, but we wouldn’t describe it as attention-grabbing. The same can be said for the iP76’s sound quality, which doesn’t sound terrible, per se, but lacks any sense of bass and offers rather muted treble. Still, thanks to its four speaker drivers, it offers a room-filling sound that keeps it from sounding small.
At $200, the iP76 seems a little expensive for an eight-pound plastic tower –even if it does offer Bluetooth. With that said, we think that tweens, teens and possibly even college students will find this speaker dock novel enough to want it in their room. It’s a pretty cool toy, but a toy nonetheless.