The front of the unit features a small LCD display, flanked by a pair of speakers. A small button to the left of the display lets you control the backlighting for both the clock display and the system’s controls buttons; using the button, you can cycle through bright, dim, and off settings.
The Home’s iPod dock clock is just above the clock display. Unlike many alarm clocks, which use Apple’s Universal Dock design, the iBoom Home goes for a one-size-fits-all approach. The dock connector is positioned at a 45-degree angle and is mounted on a spring that allows it to tilt back and forth. This avoids putting undue strain on the dock-connector and allows you to fit most iPods without the need for different adapters. The dock accommodated all of the iPods in my collection with no trouble, although an iPhone will ask you if you want to switch into Airplane Mode to avoid interference (in other words, the iBoom Home isn’t Made For iPod-certified).
The other audio options are the unit’s AM/FM radio as well as an external audio source. You connect the latter via an integrated, 8.5-inch line-in cable—convenient for attaching portable devices, though you’ll need an extension cable to hook up your computer or other less-than-portable sources. There’s also a lengthy built-in antenna cable for the radio.
The controls of the unit are almost all mounted on its top. On the left side is a knob that controls the clock mode: Alarm On, Alarm Off, Alarm Set, and Time Set; in front of that is the Snooze/Sleep button. On the right-hand side, near the back, are are two round buttons marked Listen To and Wake To, which control the audio source for playback and the alarm, respectively. In front of those are the volume controls, followed by the track/tuning buttons, and, finally, four buttons for radio presets. In the middle of the top surface—behind the iPod dock and between the two groups of controls—is a non-slip rubber pad on which you can place keys or other “pocket items.” It’s an interesting touch, but it takes up quite a bit of space and attracts dust.
DLO has made a nice effort to give the various controls different shapes and sizes, but the control scheme is still somewhat confusing. For example, I found myself frequently hitting the radio-tuning button when I wanted to hit the volume control, since they’re adjacent and sport the same size and shape. Likewise, the Listen To and Wake To buttons are indistinguishable by feel, so you have to remember which one is on the right and which is on the left. On the other hand, using the preset buttons is easy: press and hold one of the buttons while you’re tuned to a station to assign the frequency to that button; press the button quickly to tune to that station.
The large knob for controlling the clock mode is simple and tactile, but this design also means that the alarm doesn’t automatically reset for the next morning when you turn it off, making it easy to forget to turn your alarm back on. It would also be nice if the unit featured different alarm options; for example the capability to set different alarms for weekdays and weekends.
For such a small unit, the iBoom Home produces pretty good sound, whether it be music from a docked iPod, the radio, or the line-in connection. It’s a little low on the bass end, and it certainly won’t rival a serious audio solution, but it’s more than adequate for listening to occasional music and getting you up in the morning.
Macworld’s buying advice
Overall, the iBoom Home is a decent system, but not necessarily one that stands out. If you’re looking for a small iPod alarm clock with respectable sound and audio options, it’s worth a look. However, if you need niceties such as dual alarms or the ability to choose which days your alarms sound, you should probably look elsewhere.