Review: New iHome Clocks iBTW39 and iW18 Complement Office Decor AND Wake You Up
iHome gets that working from home will drive new uses for existing technology. Nowhere is this more true than in the desktop clock market where that latest iHome Clocks iBTW39 and iW18 seamlessly complement work and sleep.
iHome recently sent two clocks for review and feedback. Both sport the cool new grey-is-the-new-black vibe and the right features to keep you aware of the time, your phone charged and your body awake and in an upright position when it’s supposed to be.
Wireless Charging Bluetooth Dual Alarm Clock with Speakerphone and USB Charging
A traditional clock radio that foregoes the typical charge port interface for Bluetooth and Qi Charging.
What we like
The iBTW39 fits the modern aesthetic, at least the one described in most home decorating shows. Subtle grey minimalism with that serves as a clock, alarm, and speaker. Gone is the dust gathering wire that captures FM radio (and the tuner as well). This is a device made for a wireless, streaming world—though it isn’t completely wireless. The iBTW39 does require traditional power and it requires a USB cable to charge other devices via the 1A USB port on the back of the device.
For office use, the iBTW39 offers caller ID and a speakerphone with digital voice echo cancellation. These crossover features really differentiate the iBTW39 from other clock-chargers vying for room on a desk rather than a nightstand.
Alarm clocks sometimes feel like IQ tests when searching for how to set or turn off an alarm. I have to say, in the dark, when the time change occurred, I did struggle a bit with the buttons. And because I left my phone downstairs, I ended up waiting until the next morning to figure out how I screwed up the alarm. In good light, the alarm features prove straight forward, but the iHome Enhance app makes configuring the clock a breeze (Google Play version here).
Beyond just setting the daily alarm, the app also facilitates choosing a tone (or selecting wake to Bluetooth), repeating alarms and the snooze duration.
A unique feature, and one that may be of special interest to home automation buffs, is the If-This-Then-That IFTTT enabled SmartButton that can be configured, for instance, to turn on a desk lamp or side table lamp with the push of a button. The SmartButton can also be used to control lights or music, but IFTTT opens up a world of possibilities.
A backup battery keeps time and alarms stored during power outages.
What needs improvement
I have never been a fan of model number naming, but when companies have the breadth of products that iHome does, real naming can become a management nightmare. We’ve made it easy with links to the iBTW39 at iHome and Amazon so you won’t need to remember its name to buy one.
As far as features go, I would like to see the auxiliary USB port include QuickCharging—at minimum, a 2.1A output. The iBTW39 doesn’t include a daylight saving time button, relegating this feature to the iOS or Android app’s time syncing functionality.
A dimmer dim would also be better on the iBTW39.
The iBTW39 doesn’t offer the audio depth and range of standalone Bluetooth speakers. This clock, however, complements other devices with function-specific features for calls and wake-up calls.
Finally, the hidden dimmer snooze button that lives under the clock fabric can be a bit difficult to find (but you will memorize its placement eventually). I would prefer a consistent user experience by exposing all buttons.
Compact Alarm Clock with Qi Wireless Charging and USB Charging
Sometimes a clock is just a clock, and sometimes is a phone charger disguised as a clock.
What we like
The iW18 takes minimalism to the next level by removing the speaker. If your home is like mine, finding a speaker is no longer a problem between smart speakers and an array of Bluetooth boxes with various levels of sound proficiency and waterproofness. Clocks are actually becoming rarer given time displays is every device, or announces it when queried. Sometimes just looking up at the time is better than both of those.
I really like the programmable snooze alarm which includes a very cool implementation of physical snooze via spring-loaded feet. Rather than fumbling around for a snooze button just tap the charging plate and snooze away.
Time changes can be automatic or manual. Because the iW18 doesn’t include an app for time synchronization, this clock does sport a daylight savings switch, which an automatic setting. Manual mode is available for places (or times) that daylight savings isn’t applied or when its time on the calendar may be overridden by circumstances.
The iW18 also includes a backup battery.
What needs improvement
Bigger print on the instruction sheet. Even people with good eyesight may need a magnifying glass. The PDF version, of course, helps. And perhaps the grey fabric of the iBT339 on the charging pad rather than black.
The iW18 would also benefit from app support to manage alarms and features.
Bottom Line on iHome Clocks iBTW39 and iW18
For the home office or nightstand in an already tech-rich home, the iHome Clocks iBTW39 and iW18 offer just the right attributes to complement other technology by avoiding duplicate features.
The iHome Clocks iBTW39 and iW18 set the stage for the next generation of clock devices. Both devices simplify the traditional clock radio by taking out the radio, and for the iW18 also removing the speaker. iHome sells a variety of products that also include radios and other audio options but for the home office or nightstand in an already tech-rich home, these two products offer just the right attributes to complement other technology by avoiding duplicate features.
Click here for more hardware reviews from Serious Insights.