I believe I’ve reached the point where my main concern with a new iPhone release isn’t getting a new case for it, but checking compatibility with alarm clock docking stations. Of all the accessories I use with my iPhone, an alarm clock dock is the only one I use every day (or night, if we’re worrying about semantics). iHome is generally the first place a look, and they’ve recently expanded their product offering to include the iHome iPL22 Lightning dock with FM clock radio.
Unlike some of their products that also accommodate the iPad and iPad mini, the iPL22 is sized specifically for the iPhone and iPod touch. The benefit to this is that it doesn’t take up as much space on your nightstand (4.8″ wide by 5.12″ deep), but at 5.12″ high, it’s too large to consider for travel. The height does raise your phone well above the nightstand, though, so if you’re using it in conjunction with one of the iHome apps (more on that in a bit), you should have no trouble finding the time without having to sit up.
The iHome iPL22 places the phone in an indent behind your standard alarm clock/dock buttons: volume, alarm settings, snooze, mode, etc. Everything you need is right up top and backlit, so you’ll have no problem finding the controls you need. Of course, snooze (which also acts as a dimmer when the alarm isn’t going off) is the largest button on the dock.
In the back, you’ve got your DC jack and an auxiliary input in case you’d like to use another source for your audio.
The display has black digits/icons set against a light gray background that I never found distracting at night, although my wife preferred the dimmest setting.
The speaker won’t cut it for parties or filling a room, but it’s fine for waking you up via radio, your iTunes music, or the built-in buzzer. The clock call also lull you to sleep with Sleep Mode. You can set this from 15 to 120 minutes in 15 minute intervals, using either the radio or your iPhone’s music collection to put you to sleep. It’s worth trying a sleep sounds app in conjunction with the iPL22 if white noise helps you relax, as it’s certainly a better option than sleeping with headphones on.
Where the iHome iPL22 really gets its functionality, however, is from any of the iHome apps available in the App Store. I use iHome+Sleep, as it gives me a full set of tools such as multiple alarms and a sleep tracker. My wife uses iHome Set, because it’s the one I installed for her for the purpose of this review. This app allows you to use your iPhone to reset the clock time (great for daylight savings time and after power outages (although you really should have a battery backup)), set two alarms, handle your sleep settings, tune the radio, etc. It’s a barebones app (in both functionality and design), but it does the job.
I should mention, however, that although iHome makes great hardware, they have a tendency to kill app functionality when major updates roll along. If you’re relying on the app to control your alarms, best not to grab an update on the night before your wedding or an early flight.
Perhaps the best feature of the iPL22, however, is the Lightning dock itself. It’s open enough to support multiple devices without the need for an adapter, and features a rubber back support so you’re unlikely to snap your iPhone off and send it flying across the room on a particularly angry morning. Even better, the Lightning dock is on a slightly raised curve, which allows you to dock your iPhone or iPod touch even if the case you use isn’t completely flush with the bottom of your device. That’s the kind of design decision that clearly shows iHome has been doing this for a long time.
As Bluetooth continues to take over the accessory market, it’s good to see companies like iHome still understand that many of us want a fully charged iPhone in the morning, and therefore need the Lightning dock. The fairly compact iPL22 comes in at the bottom of the iHome product range, but there’s really no reason for most of you to spend more. Available in gray, white, and a pretty slick looking purple, it’s certainly worth a look.
Provides: FM radio alarm clock functionality and charging for Lightning compatible iPhones and iPods
Minimum Requirements: Any iPhone or iPod touch with Lightning connector