iPhone/iPod speaker docks are multiplying around my home and at the office. And for good reason. Since I’m not an audiophile the music that is pumped out of a relatively inexpensive speaker dock is usually just fine for me. But while a simple speaker dock is fine for my office (I use a bluetooth system that I love… more on that another time) in my bedroom I want something that also includes an alarm clock.
The other day I took a look at one that offers good sound. It costs $150, sounds good but isn’t compatible with iPhone due to a lack of GSM shielding. Today let’s look at the iMM178 Vibe Plus Dual Alarm Clock from iLuv. At just $100 (and available for significantly less if you shop around) it offers some impressive features and works with iPods and iPhones.
iLuv’s innovative iMM178 Vibe Plus Dual Alarm Clock makes waking up easier and more enjoyable. Featuring a unique bed shaker with speaker that slips under a pillow, the Vibe Plus awakens even the deepest sleeper with a gentle vibration and the music of an iPod or iPhone, which plays though the shaker’s integrated speaker. Enjoy rich, resonant sound from the Vibe Plus’ powerful, built-in speakers and advanced acoustic engineering. Choose from multiple alarm clock settings that offer a wide range of choices in music, alarms, and vibration alerts for a comfortable and reliable sleep and wake experience. The Vibe Plus’ jumbo screen display features a midnight black background with blue pixelated font and icons, which makes this dock extremely user-friendly and intuitive.
Because the sound of a typical alarm can often be unpleasant or ineffective, the Vibe Plus offers a wide variety of different alarms so you can start your day off right. It features a speaker-shaker that can be placed beside you in bed or underneath your pillow as you sleep. The shaker’s fully integrated speaker plays the music of your iPhone or iPod or alarm sounds. And to make sure that you don’t oversleep, the speaker-shaker provides an adjustable volume switch that allows the user to select either a low, medium, or high intensity. On the rear-side of the Vibe Plus, there is also a convenient adjustable switch where the speaker output can be varied from either the main unit speaker, the main unit speaker and the speaker-shaker, or the speaker-shaker itself. Thus, finding the perfect balance of being shaken and stirred is so easy.
· Digital dual alarm clock with universal iPod dock
· Plays and charges your iPhone or iPod
· Treble/ Bass control
· 7 selectable unique buzzer alarm sounds
· 7-5-2 (Everyday, weekdays, weekends) alarm
· Bed shaker vibrates a bed or a pillow to wake up the heaviest sleepers
· Speaker integrated Bed shaker for personal listening
· Time Sync function synchronizes time from your iPhone and iPod
· Wake to iPhone or iPod, selectable alarm should, FM radio, buzzer, and /or bed shaker
· Sleep to iPhone or iPod, FM radio, and bed shaker speaker
· Programmable presets for up to 8 FM radio stations
This system has a fairly classic clock radio look to it. From the front you can’t tell that it is made to work with a host of Apple’s music devices. A quick look at the top, however, and it is clear that this is designed to work hand in hand with an iPhone or iPod. (Speaking of which, I was pleased to find that it works with all generations of iPod touch AND all generations of the iPhone- including the iPhone 4!)
The unit is light but is solidly built with no noticeable give in the plastic at any point on the top, sides or bottom. The black plastic has a mat finish so it doesn’t show of fingerprints. The silver trim looks great from a distance and okay close up. It certainly does not feel like a unit you can get for just $75 on Amazon.
The top of the unit has a host of controls. There are a lot of them but fortunately they are clearly labeled. On the left is a silver ring for adjusting the volume and choosing the mode (ie iPod or FM- there is no AM radio). The ring on the right does nothing when you are using the iPod/iPhone but does scroll through and select radio stations when you are using that mode. The silver rings are a bit on the smooth side so, at times, I had a difficult time knowing if I was actually moving the ring or just sliding my finger over it. That leads me to my first real criticism of the unit– if it came with a remote I suspect I would NEVER use the silver circles to change the volume or station. Alas it does not.
Between the silver circles is the control panel and the dock for the iPod/iPhone. It is worth noting that all generations of iPhone and iPods with a dock connector are charged when docked.
The control panel has numerous buttons. Thankfully they are well labeled and spread out enough that they are easy to use once you become familiar with it. Again however, I wish a remote came with it.
The entire front of the control panel is one big Snooze button– dangerous if you are prone to hitting snooze repeatedly. Fortunately the clock is designed for getting you up and going. As the company explains
The convenient programmable Vibe Plus lets you select specific days of the week for activation: everyday, weekdays, or just weekends.
As someone whose schedule varies to a large degree from day to day DURING the week but usually remains the same from week to week I love this feature. In addition, because it has two alarms built into it I am able to set one alarm for hour X and the other for hour X + 15 minutes with each having a different sound. That’s a sure way to make sure I get up!
Speaking of sounds, the iMM178 offers a wide range of sound to get you up and going. You can use the music on your iDevice, use the FM radio or use one of the seven alarm sounds built into it. These include a buzzer, rooster, train horn, xylophone, telephone ring, horse race (Reveille), or a cuckoo clock.
It is worth noting that the Vibe Plus’ clock automatically synchronizes with the time from the iDevice. That means there is no more fussing to set the clock!! And finally, if you are sensitive to light you will find it reassuring to know that the digital display has a 10-step dimmer control.
The iMM178 has
jAura acoustic speaker technology, the Vibe Plus delivers robust, deep bass sound with clear, crisp treble notes. And with a treble and bass control right at your fingertips, your iPhone or iPod playlist never sounded so good.
The translates to the fact that speakers not only shoot forward but additional sound is pushed out the back through openings that are lined up with the speakers. The result is sound that is good… good but not great.
A close-up of the back reveals the power input, the attached FM antenna and two additional elements that really make this unit stand out. On the far right is the input for the “Bed Shaker”. The bed shaker is a separate speaker that can play music AND vibrate. If you place it under your pillow the shaker will let you go to sleep listening to music (this would never work in my home since Elana would be up in five seconds flat if I had even the softest music playing) and can be used to direct sound to you when the alarm goes off. In addition, the shaker has a vibrating feature that, if the music or alarm isn’t enough to rouse you, should be more than enough to get you going.
Next to the input for the bed shaker is the control that lets you choose where sound comes from– only the base unit, only the bed shaker or both. It is a cool feature that you really have to try to appreciate!!
The bottom of the unit has door that reveals a space for the AA batteries that function as a back up in case the power goes out. Seriously, this is a well equipped and thoughtfully designed unit, especially for the price.
This is a closeup of the “bed shaker”. It makes sound… and shakes. The sound isn’t great but it is more than enough to serve its purpose.
And you can choose from low, medium or high volume… even though the high volume isn’t all that loud.
At first I though this bed shaker portion of the unit was a gimmick but after trying it I must admit that I think it is a cool feature. If you are a super heavy sleeper or your partner is a sound enough sleeper that you can you play music as you fall asleep it is quite attractive.
As I have noted along the way, the iMM178 is packed with features and works quite well as a bedside clock radio. It works with all iPhones and most iPods, charges them while docked and will play music from Pandora, Slacker or Rhapsody through the iDevice. It sounds good but will not be taking any “home audio” awards home. Then again, that’s not the purpose of this clock radio. As a clock radio it is excellent and at a max of $100 I think it is a winner.
The iLuv iMM178 Vibe Plus- Dual Alarm Clock w/Bed Speaker Shaker for iPhone can be ordered available through Amazon for $70.60.. It is currently
What I Like: Plays music from most every iDevice while also charging them, has dual alarms, the bed shaker feature is neat and may be quite useful to some, nicely priced
What Needs Improvement: Does not come with a remote, sound maxes out at a fairly low level, sound quality is okay but not great