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Travel speakers aren’t just for traveling, or at least not for going too far. The thoughtful design of iHome’s iDM11 makes it great for road warriors, but also for rocking out in the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, or anywhere that isn’t already wired for sound.
The iDM11 connects easily to any Bluetooth device. Once you pair it to your iOS device (Settings > General > Bluetooth), it shows up in the same menu as an AirPlay speaker would. Pair it to your Mac (with the Bluetooth Setup Assistant) and choose it as the output in System Preferences > Sound if you’re, say, traveling with your MacBook Air, and want to watch a movie with louder audio than you’d get from the built-in speakers.
But you don’t need to use Bluetooth: you can connect any device with a headphone jack. You slide a switch on the back from Bluetooth to AUX, then connect the micro-USB end of the proprietary cable to the iDM11. The other end is split between 3.5mm audio, and a full-size USB plug for charging.
The biggest button on the back--right on top and easy to find with your finger--handles Play/Pause, Answer/End, and Pair. Your Mac or Bluetooth phone will see it as a Bluetooth headset, so you can use it for speakerphone calls (it has a tiny microphone to pick up your voice). It turns itself off when idle for two minutes, and a lock switch keeps it from turning itself back on in your luggage and wasting the battery.
I tested it with everything from movies to podcasts to rock, pop, hip-hop, and classical music. I got the best results by keeping the volume on the iHome turned all the way up, then using the volume of my iPhone (or other device) to fine-tune. With both the speaker and device on full blast, the sound gets distorted and yucky. But if you back off on the device volume, it sounds pretty respectable for the price point.
The bottom line. The iDM11 does double duty on the road and around the house, with decent sound and a cool design. Just don’t lose the cable.
Audio source with Bluetooth or a headphone jack
Decent sound. Compact and affordable. Rechargeable and portable.
Proprietary audio cable. Some dropouts when listening to Bluetooth.