iHome’s new iAV2 is the second speaker for Amazon’s Echo Dot that we’ve seen from the prolific speaker maker, coming in alongside the iHome iAV5 that we looked at earlier this year. The idea behind both models is to provide a “Spot for your Dot” (as iHome puts it), enhancing Amazon’s rather anemic-sounding Dot speaker into something that you might actually want to listen to music with, while also using the Echo Dot as the brains of the speaker to add voice assistant capabilities. In short, iHome delivers the audio experience, while Amazon provides the smarts.
Despite both speakers acting as docks for the Echo Dot, the iAV2 actually differs significantly from the iAV5 in several ways. The most obvious, of course, is that the iAV2 is a utilitarian looking cube that looks much more like a speaker than a lava lamp, with a simple digital clock on the front to display the time. However, the distinctions don’t end there; while the iAV5 communicates with the Echo via Bluetooth and didn’t even include a USB cable, much less a power adapter (since you were expected to use the one that came with your Echo Dot), the iAV2 comes fully equipped with a standard AC plug that delivers power over a DC barrel connector, along with a USB to microUSB adapter cable and built-in 3.5mm cable for hardwiring the Echo Dot into the iAV2.
In this respect, the iAV2 has more in common with Divoom’s ADOT, although the connections between the iAV2 and the Echo Dot are considerably less elegant.
While this means that the iAV2 draws less power than its Bluetooth sibling, we’re not sure this matters as the iAV2 isn’t battery-powered — it’s designed to be used as a stationary speaker, with only an internal battery to backup the clock in the event of a power failure. On the other hand, the use of a wired connection between the Echo Dot and the iAV2 means that you can use the iAV2 as a Bluetooth speaker by streaming audio via the Echo Dot. There’s also an additional USB-A port on the back of the iAV2 so you can connect an iPhone or other USB-powered device to power or charge it.
The clock on the front of the iAV2 is used only to display the time, with any other functions, including alarms, being handled by Alexa on the Echo Dot. It’s worth mentioning here that there’s no way to automatically set the time as the Echo Dot simply doesn’t support any kind of time sync over its USB port, so you’ll need to set the clock manually using three buttons located on the bottom of the speaker. The clock and also be toggled between 12- and 24-hour mode by pressing and holding the + and – buttons together, and a fourth button on the bottom allows you to cycle through five levels of display brightness for the clock.
While we don’t see any problem with putting the clock adjustment buttons on the bottom of the unit, since that’s something you shouldn’t need to access very often, we felt the location of the dimmer button was an unfortunate choice, as some users may prefer to more regularly change the intensity of the clock, particularly if you’re using it on a bedside table.
Other than the clock — which again, is just a digital clock with no alarm support or any other advanced features — the iAV2 is essentially just a “dumb” wired speaker that is entirely reliant on an Echo Dot. The sound quality is nothing particularly special; as is typical of iHome’s speakers, it’s slightly above average for a speaker in this price range, but it’s clearly designed as a bedroom speaker, with only four watts of output power — when iHome boosts “room-filling sound” they’re clearly talking about filling only a small room here. Still, we think that the iAV2 is designed to be best suited for use in a bedroom or kitchen setting, and for that purpose, the sound quality is more than acceptable for casual listening.
If anything, what we found most odd about the iAV2 was its price, coming in at $10 more than the otherwise better equipped and more versatile iAV5. About the only things the iAV2 has going for it by comparison is a digital clock on the face, the ability to more easily use it as a Bluetooth speaker via the Echo Dot, and an included power adapter. By contrast, the iAV5 boasts an internal battery with eight hours of battery life, plus a color-changing exterior shell.