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Appletell reviews the iA5 app-enhanced alarm clock from iHome

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iDevice Apps, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Reviews

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iHome iA5Provides: iPhone enhanced alarm clock
Developer: SDI Technologies
Minimum Requirements: 110V wall outlet, 3 AAA batteries for clock back-up, iPhone or iPod touch for app enhanced features
Price: $99.99
Availability: Now

iHome’s iA5 App-Enhanced Alarm Clock Speaker System for iPhone lists quite a few features, but my favorite isn’t one of the bullet items. iHome perhaps left it out because they didn’t want to insult potential buyers, but I can take it. I don’t pretend to be above the occasional insult from people I’ve never met.

I’ll get to that feature later. For now, I’ll stick with iHome’s plan.

The iA5 is a somewhat unattractive but sturdy alarm clock that comes with nearly everything you’d expect to be included on such a device. Across the top, you’ve got a large snooze bar. On the front, you’ve got your digital display on the left, offering fairly soothing light blue digits on a dark blue background. Oddly, the grill on the front stretches across the display. Is it to diffuse the brightness? I don’t know. Hitting the snooze bar when the alarm is not sounding cycles through the display brightness level, so the grill is not needed for that. I guess they just thought it looks cool.

iHome iA5

Also on the front are a bedtime sleep timer button, your up and down level buttons for cycling through time and volume, and the wakeup button. On the rear panel you’ll find display, EQ, clock sync and alarm buttons, as well as a line in jack and your DC jack. Sound pretty common? Sure, but let’s focus on that clock sync button, as it leads us to the true functionality of the iA5.

If you place an iPhone or iPod touch on the dock located front and center of the iA5, you can hit the clock sync button and it automatically pulls in the time from your phone. Handy.

But the iPhone functionality doesn’t end there. iA5 has developed the iHome+Sleep app for iPhone and iPod touch that works in conjunction with the iA5 in some pretty cool ways. First, you can create multiple sleep “cards” that you slide into place to set the alarm (simp. If you get up at different times on different days, or if you’re the type who takes scheduled naps, you can set all of these up on cards and use them when appropriate. The software is quite unwieldy, as the user interface is not at all intuitive and the cards often times simply refuse to move into the slot, but they do the job once you’re able to get them to work.

You can also program the app to lull you to sleep with music on your iPhone, then you wake up to your music, as well. No white noise or relaxing nature sounds or what have you are included, but because the app works with your music, you can simply find your own for this purpose. Some alarm sounds are included, and I found I quite like the bells, which sound to me like the death toll of the Undertaker in the WWE. Seems appropriate, most days.

The alarm will play through the clock’s speaker when docked, and you can elect to have the clock display shut off so that the iPhone screen is all you see. The dimmable display is gray on black, showing you the temperature, weather, time, and what alarm card is in place. Does your partner have an iPhone, too? Cool. Have him/her download the app, and you can plug that phone in after you take yours out in the morning.

iHome iA5

And then it all just gets weird. If you tell the app what time you went to bed (it knows when you wake up), it’ll keep a record of your sleep patterns. I didn’t do this; the last thing I need is digital proof that I don’t get nearly enough sleep. What’s more, it can automatically send this information to Twitter and Facebook. Is this the kind of thing your Facebook friends want to know? You can customize the messages that are sent, but seriously…if you think the first thing you need to do is alert your Facebook friends that you’re up, then you deserve all the “hides” you’ll be getting.

The app can also pull in the weather, the news, and even reminders you’ve set for yourself. If you’ve got something you need to take to work the next morning, iHome+Sleep will remind you right away in the morning. It’s insane.

iHome iA5

Likely, you’re not going to need all of these features, but who cares? The app is free. You don’t need the clock to use the app, and you don’t need the app to use the clock. But putting them together, you get a very handy, very cool system that really can help to change your nighttime and morning routines. After the initial setup, it all becomes second nature quite quickly.

And that leads me to my favorite feature. Because my iPhone contains my alarm clock settings, I’m pretty much forced to dock it at night. I wake up every morning knowing right where my phone is, charged and ready to go, so I’m done wasting time in the morning trying to find it (or, worse, forgetting it).

The only thing that could make this docking routine an inconvenience would be if you have your phone in a large, hard to remove case. Mine is in a skin, and it rests comfortably against the back support of the clock; no worries about knocking it over when swiping the screen to shut off the alarm in the morning.

$99.99 is expensive for an alarm clock. I get that. You can buy one for $5.00 that’ll serve its purpose. But if you’re looking for something that does more than just wake you up—that actually becomes part of your lifestyle and helps to prepare you for your day—then the iA5 App-Enhanced Alarm Clock Speaker System is one of the coolest things you’re going to find.

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