With so many iPad users claiming that their beloved tablets have now become their primary ‘computers’, the iPad keyboard market is riding the wave in the passenger seat.
iHome, best known for their fun dock-speakers for your iPod/iPhone has recently entered the iPad speaker/dock market with a whack of products, including the iDM5.
The iDM5 is multi-faceted iPad workstation that also functions as a Bluetooth audio speaker and triples as a speakerphone, turning your iPad and wireless devices into a full-functioning home office.
The full-sized keyboard is very sturdy, feels comfortable in your hands, and has the familiar touch-feedback of a Mac keyboard. The keyboard is angled so that it is comfortable to type on for long periods of time.
The backrest for the iPad also doubles as a keyboard cover, and when closed, looks very sharp and maintains an elegant look if you want to use the iDM5 as a standalone speaker.
Weighing about 2 pounds, the workstation feels sturdy enough that it won’t shuffle around while you are typing away on it, yet easy to shuffle around.
The iDM5 also functions as a charger for your USB-powered devices, as it include two USB ports. The USB ports don’t allow you to plug in your iPod to play music directly through the speakers, on the back of the device.
However, there is an audio-in port for you to plug in your iPod.
As A Sound System
I’m not the biggest fan of Bluetooth speaker systems, thanks to their unpredictable connections, but I have yet to experience any signal drops, which was a huge relief.
The iDM5 is a very capable sound system, and as a standalone speaker has pretty clear sound. It employs SRS TruBass sound enhancement technology to deliver decent bass.
If you do expect sound that will fill up an entire room, you might end up a tad disappointed. It might have to do with the placement of the speakers – they are on the sides of the keyboard, so the sound isn’t directed from each speaker into the same direction, dispersing the noise a little.
But as a secondary speaker source, the iDM5 is excellent. It is definitely many levels louder than the iPad, so it’s nice to have a speaker handy while working away.
The speakers on the iDM5 sound significantly better than those of a laptop. While it might seem like I’m comparing apples with oranges, I consider the iDM5 to potentially be a laptop killer, and the sound level and quality on the iDM5 is hands down that much better than on the MacBook Pro.
Usually an afterthought with many other workstations, the speakerphone on the iDM5 is spectacular. Callers can hear you from even across the room, and their voices are delivered crystal-clear, even with plenty of background noise.
Callers never sounded muffled while using the speakerphone (your iPhone needs to be connected via Bluetooth). Skype calls on the iPad would get muffled sometimes, but again, that had more to do with my Wi-Fi and nothing to do with the speaker itself.
At $150, you might think this is a pretty expensive option. But when you consider that most other workstations consist only flimsy keyboard (and usually running anywhere from $60-$100) the iDM5 is not that much more of an investment.
Throw in a decent Bluetooth speaker, and an amazing speakerphone function and the iDM5 starts to look pretty attractive (pricewise).
The USB Ports are definitely a feature that many others overlook, but thankfully iHome has included these. It’s a small feature that your wall-sockets will definitely thank.
As a side note, if you don’t have an iPad or iPhone, the iDM5 does work with other tablets and smartphones as long as they are Bluetooth capable.
The iDM5 is definitely not the most portable option out there as a workstation, but if I were roadtripping or cottaging, I would definitely bring the iDM5 along with me. It doesn’t take up too much space (or weight) in your luggage either, so if you do want to travel laptop less, it wouldn’t be out of the question that you could bring this along.
I really like the feel and look of the iDM5. It has a classy look for that professional feel, but the device still feels at home on your kitchen counter.
I would have liked for the speakers to be a little more powerful, but the speakerphone more than makes up for that, as it arguably is one of the best Bluetooth speakerphones I have experienced.
With so many features that will be appreciated by smartphone/tablet users, the iDM5 definitely raises the bar in bringing the convenience of laptop functions, in an attempt to replace your home computer.
There was a reason the iDM5 was a 2012 CES Coolest Innovation nominee, and iHome has definitely met very high expectations for their latest release. It’s a must have if you want to truly harness the power of your iPad and iPhone.
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