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We’re all about convergence, but sometimes gadget makers are prone to slapping iPod docks on products that don’t really need them, like armchairs and toilet paper holders. iHome’s iP71 isn’t one of those head-scratchers. It’s a set of stereo desktop speakers featuring an iPod dock, so you can play music from your iPod, your Mac, or another audio device, plus keep your iPod charged at the same time.
The left and right speakers measure 3.2 inches wide by 8.3 inches tall and 5.51 inches deep. The silver-and-black plastic case blended in with our iMac, and the speakers’ fronts are tilted to a pleasant angle for listening. The right speaker has power and volume buttons, and the left speaker has the iPod dock, and a button on top that toggles syncing on and off.
The convenience of an iPod dock always at arm's reach, plus some quality speakers, make the iP71 a welcome addition to even the most cluttered desk.
The only thing unsightly about the iP71 is how many cords it uses, but that’s not iHome’s fault since each cord serves its own essential function. With just the power cable connected, plus an audio cable connecting the speakers, you can charge your iPod or iPhone in the dock, and play its music over the speakers. Add the audio cable if you want to connect your Mac or a different audio device like a portable CD player or iPod shuffle. And if you want to sync your docked iPod or iPhone with your Mac, you need the USB cable as well. Luckily, iHome includes all the cables you need.
The iP71 uses iHome’s “high-fidelity Reson8 speaker chambers,” which doesn’t mean all that much to us, but we were impressed with the sound they put out. Hip-hop, electronic, country, classical, and spoken-word podcasts all sounded great, with good detail. Loud rock tracks seemed to be missing a little bit of definition in the high end, but overall the iP71 can play very loudly without the sound getting distorted. The included remote has a button for a 3D sound effect that made the music sound a little fuller, but can also introduce an echo-y effect. We preferred to keep it off. The remote also has separate bass and treble controls, but there’s no visual cue to how far up or down either is set. A Reset button puts the bass and treble back to zero, and the remote also has volume, shuffle, mute, and repeat. If you’re listening to music from your iPod or iPhone, you can navigate your device’s menus with the remote too.
Connected to our Mac, iTunes music and videos sounded full, but we had to crank the Mac’s audio to get loud sound. (Playing from an iPod is louder.) Still, they were loud enough to hear anywhere in the room when we cranked them up to watch videos on the computer.