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iHome DL100: Speaker dock charges three devices, but falls short as an alarm clock

Lex Friedman | March 7, 2014
iHome's $150 DL100 (which the company describes as a "Triple Charging Stereo FM Clock Radio with Two Lightning Docks and USB Charge/Play for iPad/iPhone and iPod") is cooler in concept than in practice. It's a fine clock, a fine charging station, and a decent speaker. But it's a lackluster alarm clock, and alarm-clock features have always been what makes iHome's products stand out from the crowd.

While I've tested a number of solid iPhone-dock alarm clocks from iHome, the top of the DL100 is loaded with too many buttons: volume up and down, power, mode, bedtime, clock, EQ, Dock 1 play/pause, Dock 2 play/pause, USB play/pause, wake up, tuning, snooze/dimmer, Alarm 1, and Alarm 2.

Similarly, setting either of the dual alarms involves pressing a too-long sequence of buttons. Though you might still want to do this if you have two people using the alarm features, or if you want to take advantage of the system's "752" feature (which lets you set different alarm times for different days), I found that it was easier to just use my iPhone's built-in Clock app — or one of many excellent third-party alarm clock apps — and have its alarm play through the DL100's speakers. (iHome does offer its own iHome Sleep app for configuring the system, but I preferred using the iOS Clock app's Siri-driven alarms.) As with most recent docking alarm clocks, you can set the time on the DL100's clock by simply docking an iOS device.

The DL100 also includes an FM radio. Reception using the included wire antenna was fine in my house, and it's easy enough to cycle through the six station presets by pressing the preset button repeatedly.

In terms of sound quality, the DL100 performs like a decent clock radio. In other words, it's good enough for bedroom listening, and you can manually adjust bass and treble levels, but given the nightstand-friendly size, you shouldn't expect impressive bass, noticeable stereo separation, or room-shaking audio levels. During my testing, it was fine for listening to music during the morning routine.

Bottom line
I like the DL100, and despite a few quirks with its charging features, I appreciate the system's capability to power three devices at the same time — I've been using it nightly to charge my gear. Sound quality is in keeping with reasonable expectations for a clock at this size and price. However, the plethora of buttons on the device is confusing, and setting the alarm is needlessly complicated.


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