Best looking unit in this test; convenient docking station allows for easy portability
Confusing controls; confusing setup; no Wi-Fi direct
First announced in January 2011, iHome’s iW1 was one of the first ‘budget’ AirPlay compatible stereos on the market.
The iW1 introduced a number of firsts for Airplay systems, most importantly incorporating a rechargeable battery that allows the iW1 to be used independently from a power outlet. It’s a useful feature but unfortunately, in our experience, the device only lasted a couple of hours away from its docking station.
To get the iW1 on your network you download the free iHome Connect app from the App Store, then plug your iPhone into the unit and use the app to help the iW1 join your wireless network. Once you’ve selected your network and entered the Wi-Fi password, you should be set.
We found controlling the iW1 difficult and always had to reach for the manual. There are a range of buttons on the unit – some on the top glossy surface that are hard to distinguish and make it easy to get confused.
On the back of the iW1 there’s a physical on/off slider switch and a network switch (which toggles the state of the network), plus an indicator light. Once you get the iW1 on the network controlling it is easy, but if you ever need to reset it, or it drops off the network, be prepared to reach for the manual to get it all going again.
While the iW1 doesn’t have an iOS dock, a USB port at the rear can be used to play music from your phone. The USB port works with both a 30-pin or Lighting cable, although in our testing playback was unreliable. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
Sound quality from the iW1 was better than average. Bass and treble response were both good – and easily as good as the Sonos S3, which is about the same size.