iHome iD9 is an affordable, simple, and capable speaker dock
At a Glance
iHome's $100 iD9 (officially called the iD9 Portable App-friendly Rechargeable Speaker System for iPad/iPhone/iPod, but I'll stick with just iD9) is a portable, rechargeable stereo speaker dock for your iOS devices and iPods. And despite its affordable price—or, heck, partly because of it—the iD9 is pretty cool.
The iD9's body is made of black and silver plastic that looks almost like metal. The system weighs 3.3 pounds and measures 12.9 inches wide, 2.1 inches tall, and just 4 inches deep. You simply place your dock-connector-equipped iOS device or iPod in the iD9's cradle and start rocking out.
On the front of the unit sit volume buttons to the left and a power button on the right. (You can also use your device’s volume controls.) The power button illuminates when the iD9 is plugged in or (when running off battery power) powered on; a line of four LEDs to the left of the button indicate the current battery level. On the back, you’ll find a connection for the included power adapter, a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) auxiliary input for listening to a non-dock-connector source, and a confusing switch.
That switch, which iHome calls the Remote Switch, toggles between On and Auto modes. In On mode, the iD9 always responds to signals from iHome's optional ($20) Rz7 remote control. In Auto mode, the iD9 doesn't respond to the remote if the iD9 is running off battery power. (The idea here is to keep the remote from accidentally turning on the iD9 when, say, the speaker is packed in your bag.) I didn’t test the remote.
The iD9's internal battery packs 2600mAh of juice, which iHome says should last for 4.5 hours of reasonable-volume playback. That matched my experience. The iD9 charges your docked device if the speaker is connected to AC power, but not when the iD9 is powered by its own battery.
The iD9's two speakers sit at either end of the iD9, facing out to the left and right, rather than forward. The result is a surprisingly robust stereo effect given the relative smallness of the unit. The stereo separation remains discernible even across a small room.
iHome says that the iD9 uses SRS TruBass sound enhancement, Reson8 speaker chambers, and digital sound processing “to give your music extra bass and clarity.” Marketing blurbiage aside, the iD9 sounds good, even at maximum volumes, though—buzzwords notwithstanding—bass presence is what you’d expect at this price point: negligible. Still, I was pleased with the system's overall sound.
The iD9 is basic and simple, but it will generate nice sound around your home, and it can even provide the battery-powered soundtrack for a small outdoor gathering. While its audio performance isn’t jaw-dropping, it’s certainly listenable for small- to mid-sized rooms. The fact that it's compact and inexpensive for an iPad-compatible docking speaker adds to its appeal.