Review: iHome iDM12

iDM12 works wirelessly over Bluetooth to deliver personal sound. (May 2nd, 2011)

The tiny iHome iDM12 works wirelessly over Bluetooth to deliver personal sound. While the sound will not blow you away, the light portable device is good for the frequent traveler.

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: iHome, a div. of SDI Technologies

Price: $69.99 US

The Good

  • Tiny and lightweight.
  • Fits easily in a backpack or suitcase.
  • Wireless.
  • Runs on batteries for hours.
  • Charges via USB - no AC adapter.

The Bad

  • Acceptable sound quality could be better.

The iHome iDM12 Portable Rechargeable Speaker System is a portable wireless speaker system for your iPad, iPhone, and iPod. (In this review, I will just refer to the iPad, but it relates to the other devices also.

The cylinder shaped iDM12 is a bit more than 7" long and less than 2 1/2" in diameter. It weighs .35 lbs, which makes it easy to tote around. The single Micro-USB connector in the back takes either power or music. There is a small clip cover in the back that looks like it should reveal a battery compartment, but is actually a stand to keep the speakers upright. The rechargeable batteries are not designed to be replaced.

iDM12

iDM12


There are four buttons on the top of the device: Power, volume up/down, and pause/play. The last one is nice because your iPad might not be right next to the speakers, and sometimes you need to silence the music immediately.

iDM12 Top

iDM12 Top


The iDM12 recommended mode of operation is to stream music from your iPad over Bluetooth within 30 feet, and charge the speaker battery via USB. It does not ship with a power adapter, but uses a combination USB/audio cable. You need to plug the speaker into your Mac or iPad charger to charge it.

The iDM12 comes with a cover that attaches to the front of the speakers magnetically. When you pull the cover off, it becomes a stand for your iPad or iPad 2. The stand has two small feet that fold out to provide balance. Don't forget to extend the feet, because the stand falls over when you insert your iPad without them.

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iDM12 Dock


Setting up the iHome iDM12 is quick and painless. To play music wirelessly, you have to pair your iPad to the iDM12. To do this, you hold down the "pairing" button on the speakers, and do rest of the Bluetooth setup on your iPad.

 iDM 12 and iPad

iDM 12 and iPad

Charging Speakers

The manual for the iDM12 recommends that you charge the speakers for eight hours before using them for the first time. My unit took about 45 minutes to fully charge right out of the box; it must have been mostly charged. That's a good thing, because waiting eight hours to use a new set of speakers would certainly dampen my enthusiasm for them.

I charged the iDM12 overnight and paired it with my iPhone to test the battery. I set my iPhone up to play the album Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd over and over. My goal was to see how long the iDM12 would last on battery, but I was unsuccessful. When I got ready to go to bed, about 10 1/2 hours later, it was still going strong.

At first, I had a trouble turning on and off the iDM12. Reading the documentation made it clear. You press and hold the power button for about three seconds to turn it on, and a short press turns it off.

Sound

The iDM12 sound suffers somewhat from its size; there just isn't that much space inside the speakers. It uses two active speaker drivers and one passive radiator. While the overall sound quality is decent, when I turned up the volume, it caused some distortion, especially in the bass notes. I used the MacNN audio test suite, and I could hear the 10K Hz tone, but not the 11K Hz tone. I was able to hear the 20 Hz tone, but it seemed a bit muddled. The sound is not excellent, but acceptable.

iDM12 with iPhone

iDM12 with iPhone


The only problem I had with the iDM12 was with the sound quality, especially on the low end. It is not that the sound quality is bad, but rather that I noticed the difference compared to other speaker systems.

Recommended

If you want a small, light pair of speakers to carry in your backpack or suitcase while traveling, the iDM12 is a good choice. The Bluetooth connectivity is very convenient. You can put it on a dresser or desk and listen to music without worrying about tangling any wires. Charging via USB is nice, because you don't have to carry a separate AC adapter. If you need to fill a room with sound, or provide background music at a party, I think you will be happier with a different set of speakers, but this works for portable convenience.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Marshall Clow


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