iLive ISP209B Portable Speaker System Review - Alarm Clock for iPhone and iPod

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iLive ISP209B Portable Speaker System Review - Alarm Clock for iPhone and iPod

The iLive ISP209B is not your typical alarm clock - it's a portable iPod and iPhone docking station with built in speakers and dual alarm function that you can stuff in your travel bag and be sure to be woken up with your favorite tunes. Not only does it playback your iPhone/iPod music for its dual alarms, but it also simultaneously charges your iPhone or iPod. No more waking up in the morning to realize you left your WiFi, 3G, and Bluetooth radio on, thus sucking your iPhone's battery completely dry. Trust me, I know, I've done it. I get terrible 3G coverage in my house, so unless I turn off 3G, the iPhone is constantly trying to reach a 3G tower using maximum transmit power. Leaving my iPhone on overnight with even just 3G turned on will suck faster than Bill Maher's movie. (or his HBO show for that matter)

In any event, I was sent a review unit to check out. First, thing I liked was the small design featuring with left and right stereo speakers, an iPod/iPhone docking tray on top and large white backlit LED display in front. Interestingly, there is no AM/FM radio included. What? An alarm clock radio with no radio? It's not a big deal really unless you enjoy local news, weather, talk radio when you wake up. If you prefer your favorite music to play instead, then this is a perfect product for you, especially if you travel a lot. It can be powered by 4 AA batteries if you don't want to pack the included AC adapter. If you insist on local radio, you can download Flycast or any number of streaming radio apps for the iPhone and stream the radio directly. In fact, once you start your streaming app you can place the iPhone or iPod on the iLive dock and it will play the audio through the large speakers. Nice!

The iLive ISP209B lets you wake up to a buzzer or music stored on your iPod/iPhone. What's nice about the buzzer is that it gradually increases in volume as opposed to jolting you out of bed with a blaring buzzer. The dual alarms is a nice feature and each alarm can be configured to use the buzzer or music stored on your iPod/iPhone.

A remote control is included which can control music playback on the iPod or iPhone and can be used to snooze an alarm. Speaking of snooze, the snooze button is a thin black button recessed into the black molding of the unit making it very hard to find. It also has a fairly high threshold of pressure required to activate. In my "real world test", I found myself struggling to find it in my half-awake stupor and morning blurry eyes. I found all the mental effort and physical pressure needed to activate caused me to be more alert - thus defeating the purpose of a 10 minute snooze. I'm starting to get more used to it, but would like to see a more pronounced snooze button in a future release.

In any event, the iLive ISP209B also sports audio input jacks, as well as video outputs so you can view your iPod/iPhone movies, videos and pictures on a TV. Definitely useful if in a hotel and you want to watch a movie stored on your iPhone/iPod on a larger screen than your iPhone or iPod. However, I don't see much use of the video output feature if this alarm clock is permanently installed in your home bedroom. There are better devices for centralized home media management such as HTPCs that can output video and picture content to your TVs. Besides, snaking a video cable from a bedroom nightstand to a bedroom TV is just asking for trouble - both from the wife and from tripping over it in the middle of the night. Professionally snake the video cable you say? For an alarm clock? Yeah right.

Features & Specifications:
- Plays and charges: iPod mini; iPod nano 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G; iPod classic 4G, 5G, 5.5G, 6G; iPod touch 1G, 2G; iPhone 1G, 3G
- Alarm clock lets you wake to iPod music or buzzer; includes gradual wake mode
- Remote Control
- 0.9-inch LCD with white backlight
- Power with AC adapter or with six AA batteries
- 3.5-mm auxiliary input for use with external devices
- Display: 0.9-inch LCD with white backlight
- Power Supply: 110V-AC/DC adapter, UL/CUL Listed, UL/CUL Listed (included); or 6 AA batteries (not included)
- Remote Battery: Button cell
- Dimensions: 10.39 x 3.19 x 3.23 inches (L x W x H)
- Auxiliary Input: 3.5-mm mini jack

Overall, I think this is a great product. I really like it's portability, which can easily put put into a travel bag or luggage. It can also be used as a portable stereo system by using the remote control to skip through songs, mute, adjust the volume and bass. All in all, definitely a good alarm clock, perfect to add to anyone's gadget arsenal - especially with Christmas around the corner. You can buy one from Amazon for around $58.

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