iHome IH36 Review

I gave my wife an iHome iH36 under-cabinet iPod Stereo for Christmas. It’s got issues. Generally speaking, it’s a pretty decent little system. But I’m annoyed a few little things that I can’t fix (or that it just plain does wrong).

The first thing is the display. It’s a back-lid LCD display. Maybe I need to read the instructions more carefully, but that display’s backlighting never turns off. It’s kinda bright, and it’s sure wasting electricity being on all the time. I’d like it to go off when the power goes off (i.e., when I’m not listening to anything).

The system can only handle US ASCII characters in song titles. I have a few disks with foreign characters in them. Some are not very weird, like some excellent modern tango from La Revancha del Tango by the Gotán Project. Notice the accent over the a. For a whole lot of accented characters, consider the Finnish group Viikate. The album I have is Parrun Pätkiä and it includes titles like Kevyesti Keskellä Päivää (which, loosely translated, means “whole lotta umlauts goin on!”). When one of their songs comes on, the display doesn’t update. The old song’s title and artist still displays. In fact, the screen stays jammed for a while. I can hit the next track button and it will sort itself out. But if I leave it alone for a while, it will just stay stuck. Music plays fine though.

Finally, as you know, I have an iPhone. This thing isn’t really made for iPhones. For one thing, you have 2 choices when you connect your iPhone: go into airplane mode (thereby missing all calls, SMSs, and emails), or stay connected to the network(s) and have this annoying bt-bt-btbtbtbt-bt-bzzzzzt happen every so often (very loudly). Some of the blame here really belongs to Apple, but the iHome was made before the iPhone was in general release, so the integration is a bit weak.

The sound on this unit is great. It fills our kitchen / dining room / living room area nicely. It’s got good dynamic range, too.