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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gadget Review: iHome iBN27 Rechargeable Stereo Speaker

Review by Nick H.

iPhones and iPads are great because they offer so much entertainment on the go. But boy are those speakers in them underwhelming. That's not a problem when you're out and about. That's what headphones are for, after all.

But what about just moving around the house? Take my wife for example. Her iPad goes everywhere with her. She has it in the bedroom. She uses it in the living room. It makes its way into the laundry room if she is doing chores or to our dining room if she is making crafts. She loves to listen to music on it or stream Netflix while her hands are busy, but dragging around a set of speakers, plugging them into the device as well as searching for an outlet is inconvenient, so she usually just deals with the mediocre built-in speakers on the device. iHome's solution is considerably more convenient.

Weighing in at less than a pound with no need for plugs, the iBN27 is a surprisingly elegant solution to the above problem. This is a portable Bluetooth stereo speaker that set up very easily with our iPhone and iPad, and the signal reception was excellent. So that solved the first problem - no need to connect to the device. However, if you do prefer a physical connection, or want to hook up something that does not support Bluetooth (such as an older phone or an MP3 player), there is a handy 3.5 mm jack on the back of the speaker that gives you that option as well.

This is a rechargeable speaker as well, which solves the outlet concern. I was usually getting about eight hours of continuous use out of it on a single charge. Once again though, there is a plug option for those who do not want to tax the battery and happen to have an outlet nearby. It hooks up into the speaker via a mini-USB port.

The speaker design itself is simple, but solid. At about a half foot in width and less than three inches in both height and diameter, the iBN27 fits in a variety of spaces from windowsill to counter without taking up much real estate. The outer shell is finished with a rubberised coating that makes it easy to pick up and move but feels like it would be durable if dropped or knocked down. That said, that finish does seem to pick up fingerprint oil pretty readily.



One design choice I was not a huge fan of was the buttons on the back. It keeps things simple, but if you have the speaker wedge up against a surface like a wall or window, it does need to be pulled forward so turn it on or off. Also, the speaker itself has no volume controls - you need to adjust volume on the device. A small thing, but worth noting.

While the convenience is a major factor with a unit like this (and it is suitable to both indoor and outdoor use), the sound quality is the other important item. I have a couple of other similar speakers around my house and the iHome iBN27 performed as well or better than all of them. This little guy is completely capable of filling a room with sound, or being placed on a deck and heard a dozen or so feet away. The sound levels are even, without overwhelming bass but reasonable highs and lows. I would sync my phone up to it and play music at full volume, and the audio never sounded distorted in any way. In fact, I was surprised just how rich a variety of different types of music sounded, from live concerts to video game soundtracks.

I have to admit, at the end of the day I was both surprised and impressed with how good this little guy sounded. The iHome iBN27 Rechargeable Stereo Speaker is a convenient, lightweight device that hooks up to your devices easily and delivers excellent sound. A few small things like the button placements or lack of volume controls might bother some people depending on how they plan to use it, but the versatility the speaker provides far outweighs those minor flaws.


- Nick H.
US Editor



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Gadget Review: iHome iBN27 Rechargeable Stereo Speaker
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