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iHome iDM11 rechargeable portable Bluetooth speaker review

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPad, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Peripherals, Reviews, Speakers and Headphones

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iDM11Provides: Rechargeable, portable, mono Bluetooth audio playback with speakerphone capability
Developer: iHome
Compatibility: Bluetooth-enabled devices, other devices via aux line-in
Price: $69.99
Availability: Now

iHome’s iDM11 is the second product by the company I’ve had the chance to review, and it is now my favorite over the more expensive iD9 for a number of reasons that I’ll get into shortly. The main difference between the iD9 and iDM11, in my eyes, is that the former is marketed more towards iPad owners, while the iDM11 is a lot more versatile. Being an iPad owner, having a portable speaker system designed for it was nice, but it didn’t always serve my needs. Its versatility, among other benefits of the iDM11 over the iD9, had me using it as a replacement for the iD9 since it arrived.

That does not mean that the iDM11 is not without its own downsides, though. Among the things that I dislike about the iDM11 are its low battery capacity, Bluetooth pairing issues, and having to recharge via USB. The iDM11 can only hold a charge for a few hours, definitely less than the iD9. iHome’s web site boasts up to 10 hours, but I certainly got less than that. However, this isn’t exactly unexpected as the iDM11 relies on Bluetooth (and not the energy-efficient Bluetooth Smart, unfortunately), and it can reach volumes much higher than the iD9 can (at which I was using it during the testing period, as I tend to like my music loud).

Bluetooth error
What bothered me the most about the iDM11 were the constant connection problems that forced me to re-pair it with my Macbook Pro every time I turned it back on. I would almost always run into issues, receiving error messages (such as pictured to the right) and having the iDM11 refuse to function even though my Mac clearly recognized it as connected and was streaming my music to it. This led to a lot of frustration and had me opting to connect via line-in aux or just using my MacBook Pro’s built-in speakers over Bluetooth more often, even though connecting via Bluetooth came with a higher volume output potential.

While I appreciate that the iDM11 is a rechargeable speaker and is saving me money on batteries, I wish iHome would have included the ability to charge it with an AC adapter rather than solely via a USB cable. Having only two USB ports on my MacBook Pro doesn’t leave me much space to plug the iDM11 in to charge when I already have my phone/iPad/printer/flash drive/whatever else plugged in.

Now that I’ve gone over the iDM11’s less-desirable features, I should focus on the good (and there is quite a bit of good). Among things I like about the iDM11 are its high volume output potential (particularly over Bluetooth, as I already mentioned), clear audio quality with decent bass, inclusion of an aux cable (the iD9 did not include one, even though it also supports line-in aux), speakerphone functionality, and simple design and setup.

The iDM11 is capable of reaching extremely high volumes over Bluetooth, which is both nice and somewhat excessive as the audio quality is quite distorted past a certain level. At reasonable volume levels, though, audio quality is very clear, and its TruBass sound enhancement really shows (although, of course, it does not compare to what a subwoofer is capable of). The inclusion of an aux cable is great for when you don’t want to heavily drain the iDM11’s battery or for when you’re charging it. The only downside of connecting via line-in aux are the diminished volume level capacity as well as the emission of a static-like noise at high volumes.

The iDM11’s speakerphone functionality is undoubtedly very nice to have, especially when connecting your Bluetooth-capable smartphone to it. I’ve admittedly only tested the feature once throughout my use of the speaker, but in my trial it worked perfectly. The iDM11’s built-in microphone produced crisp clear audio quality, and the whole process was incredibly simple once the iDM11 was paired with my Acer Liquid E.

Lastly, the iDM11 is great for its very simple design and setup. The speaker itself has only four buttons: one for power, two for volume, and one for play/pause/Bluetooth/speakerphone. Also included is a switch to toggle between aux, Bluetooth, and locked modes, and the micro USB port for charging. Setting up the iDM11 for use with any device involved using just these four buttons (as well as simple steps involved in Bluetooth pairing performed on the device in question). All of this is outlined extremely understandably in the iDM11’s accompanied manual and Quick Bluetooth Connection Guide.

In all, iHome’s iDM11 is a very good rechargeable, portable, mono speaker for its $70 price tag. It gets the job done in terms of offering high-quality portable sound wherever you need it, and I’d certainly recommend it if you can put up with the few minor issues that I’ve mentioned in this review. iHome does seem to put a lot of effort into designing their products to be both simple and of really high quality, which is what I admire most about them.

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Buy the iHome iDM11

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