Review: iPhone Alarm Clock Dock & Speaker Hits Most of the High Notes

The folks at iHome make a wide variety of iPhone accessories, particularly speakers... so many that I give them a hard time for resorting to cryptic naming schemes. The iBTW281 ($79.99) alarm clock phone charger that they sent me to try is just one example. Fortunately, I speak "iHome," so I can translate the "BT" to Bluetooth and the "W" to Wireless. That gives you a good idea of what this "Dual Alarm Clock Speaker System + Dual Charging" device (that's the long name) does!

Related: Buyer's Guide 2019: Rugged, Smart & Fun Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Speakers

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iHome

Obviously, the Dual Alarm Clock Speaker System + Dual Charging connects to your iPhone  via Bluetooth. But this iPhone alarm clock dock also fast charges that device wirelessly via Qi at up to 10 watts. It even has a USB port for charging an additional device, as long as you provide a cable. I found that you need to place the phone just right on the charging pedestal to make it charge, so pay attention to that. It's important, since this is a bedside unit and you don't want to wake up to an uncharged phone. Speaking of waking up, this iPhone alarm clock dock has up to two different alarm times so you can have a different one for Monday to Friday versus weekends, etc.

iHome

Personally, I rely on Alexa for my alarms, so I would have preferred to have Alexa integrated into this device. Fortunately, iHome makes a ton of different speakers, several that have Alexa built-in or the ability to plug an Amazon Echo Dot directly into the speaker. Of course, Amazon Echo devices can output to a Bluetooth speaker, so you could configure one to work with this unit. Then again, maybe you don't want Amazon listening in on your bedroom conversations, so for some folks, this could be ideal!

The iHome devices are always attractive and this one has multiple color-changing lights for a neat ambiance effect. You can fall asleep or wake to soothing colors so that's a nice touch. There are more than a dozen color modes and wake up modes including dawn, slow fade, twinkle, pulse-to-music, nightlight, and more. The speakers deliver booming sound, so it could be useful for your living room, too. It even works as a speakerphone, so it could go in a conference room. It's not portable, although there is a built-in battery to maintain the time and date and alarms, in the event of a power outage.

Pros

  • Multi-function Bluetooth speaker and clock
  • Charges wirelessly via Qi at up to 10 watts
  • USB port for additional device
  • Color-changing lights
  • Nice digital display with two alarms

Cons

  • Need to position phone just right to charge
  • No Alexa integration
  • No FM radio built-in
  • Not battery operated

Final Verdict

The iHome iBTW281 iPhone speaker dock hits a lot of the right notes, but if you want a bedside speaker with Alexa built-in, check out the rest of iHome's Bluetooth speaker product line.

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.