I’ve been thinking about whether to get a Bluetooth speaker for use with my iPad/iPhone or an Apple AirPlay one. I’ve been using a jury-rigged Bluetooth set up with an old iPad speaker dock and a Logitech Bluetooth adapter connected to the Aux input. Not a very elegant solution.
The thing about using Bluetooth is that it pretty much takes over all of the iOS device’s audio output. So audio notifications can get problematic. AirPlay on the other hand can be limited to specific apps, like the Music app. The downside of AirPlay devices is that they are EXPENSIVE! I thought about doing an AirPlay DIY project that uses an Apple Airport Express, but I wanted a small self-contained unit.
Best Buy had the iHome iW3 on sale for $179, so I decided to give it a try. So far I love it. It’s pretty compact aside from it’s giant AC adapter–I think Apple should be in charge of designing all AC adapters ;-)
Connecting to your WiFi network is a snap. It’s got a USB port and I just connected my iPad to it using the included 30-pin style connector. A little dialog box appears asking if you want to allow it to access your WiFi setting. That’s it. I assume it would work if you used one of the newer Lighting cables, but it doesn’t list the iPhone 5 or iPad 4 as supported devices on the box.
There are some basic playback controls on the top. The entire unit is relatively heavy and sits on it small charging base. To move it, you just lift it by the recessed handle in the back. Most of the unit is covered in this speaker material. Your natural instinct is to grab the unit by the sides, but I would worry that this wouldpermanently stretch the material. Only time will tell. I would have preferred a plastic or metal covering.
The sound is good, but to be honest I’m not a big audiophile.