iHome iH8

When researching for this review, I learnt that iHome invented the iPod clock radio genre. You learn something new every day. The iHome iH8 is a much smaller affair than the Philips and doesn't look anywhere near as cool. But then it is over £100 cheaper, and as it's smaller it's more suitable to have next to your bed.

It's essentially an iPod dock with speakers built into it and it's not the best looking design. To put it politely, it has a slightly inexpensive feel to it. The faux brushed metal look doesn't really come off and there are two many buttons. The speakers are covered by silver grilles and in the centre is a large but rather old fashioned looking LCD panel. This displays the time, once set, in large easy to read digits - making it grandma friendly. Even better is the switch at the back that move the time one hour forward, so you can easily switch between GMT and BST, without having to faff about - a great touch.

The dock sits at the rear and in front is a number of rather dull looking buttons. There are four buttons for radio presets and there's a tuner for FM and medium wave. It's possible to set two separate alarms and both can be made to bring on the radio or the iPod. If the iPod is not there when it's expecting one to be, it sounds a rather harsh buzzer.

At the front of the dock is a snooze alarm, to which you can give a good whack to when you want to ignore the iHome's suggestions that you get up. The button also acts a dimmer for the LCD backlight, and you can choose between off, bright and dim. When you set up the alarms, things are made fairly easy by rotating the right hand side dial to move round the clock. This dial also makes it straightforward to move between frequencies, which are displayed in the corner of the front LCD screen.

Round the back is an input for the power switch, which is necessary to use the iPod dock. The power supply is a pretty big old chunky thing, so you'll need to find a space for it. When it's plugged in the clock will still run thanks to two AA batteries. You also get a line out port so you can feed the iPod to another set of better, speakers. There's also a headphone socket and a connector for attaching the medium wave aerial. The FM aerial is a thin shirt cable jobby, and unlike the Philips there's no coaxial connector for a roof aerial, so if you can't get good reception there's no way of improving it.

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