Things I Wish The $300 iHome iP1 Did Beyond Playing Music

The iHome iP1 is, unquestionably, iHome's best attempt at building a quality iPod dock yet. But I shudder to think it's a $US300 machine. And if you care to know why, read on in my somewhat unconventional, completely self-indulgent review.

The Rundown

The P1 is an iPod/iPhone dock. You put in your iPod, it'll back it up with speakers (2 x 4 inch honeycomb woofers and 2 x 1 inch silk dome tweeters, to be exact). Plus there's a Bongiovi Acoustics Digital Power Station (a glowing B button) that promises to be the "first 100% active digital signal processor on a consumer electronic product". Huh. OK then.

The Performance

How does it all sound? I'm torn. Sometimes I'm impressed (like by some respectable mids and occasionally tight/brilliant lows), and others I'm completely underwhelmed (like by perpetually thin drums and an over-emphasis on re-verb that oft-creates an artificial echo.)

And as for that glowing B button, my opinion changed by the song—but I'm guessing that's more because it artificially tweaked the balance than did anything spectacular to the audio quality. Standard pop music sometimes projects better from the speakers, but Sgt Pepper, for instance, becomes a murky mess when you hit that tempting blue button.

Overall, the iP1 sounds fine—like a $US300 iPod dock—though I wouldn't fist pump the purchase on sound quality alone, unless I was also smitten with the P1's design-forward, smoked acrylic frame. If you like how the iP1 looks and desire an iPod dock, then by all means, go for it. But, and I don't claim to have listened to every competitor's current-gen systems, I trust that manufacturers like JBL, Logitech and Altec Lansing can more than compete in this price range. Because their last gen models certainly did.

My bigger point is that in 2009 (a phrase we will inevitably laugh at in 2010 and beyond, I know), I'm looking for late bloomers like iHome to work a little harder for my love and loyalty (and, oh yeah, MONEY).

The Bitching

So why can't the P1...

• Mic/amplify/work in any way with speakerphone calls? • Connect to the iPhone through a custom app (EQ display, etc)? • Dial a number through its oversized remote? • Output video through HDMI instead of component? • Support A2DP audio streams (no dock needed)? • Floor me with sound quality?

The iP1 is just one of countless premium iPod docks, so it's a bit unfair to single it out...but why doesn't it do more? Even the $US100-cheaper iHome iP47 supports a third of the stuff on the list above.

I don't want 1000 functions that I don't need, and I'm not asking it to decode the human genome. I want practical, invisible, attainable utility that I can appreciate on a daily basis.

You know, for $US300, in grand old 2009.

Unique design

Respectable sound quality

Bongiovi DPS is nothing particularly special

Barebones functionality—cheaper iHome products have more features

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