Following the design aesthetics of its iP4 FM Stereo Boombox, iHome has introduced a new lineup of boxy Bluetooth speakers under the Boom! line. Among them is the iBT24 Bluetooth Rechargeable Stereo Mini Speaker ($70), a small and highly portable sound box. Available in either grey or lime green, the rubberized design almost looks like something out of a cartoon — in a good way. It ships with a Micro-USB cord for power, and an aux cable for piping music either inwards from non-Bluetooth devices, or outward to another speaker.
Like many of the speakers we see these days, iBT24 is a small extruded rectangle. It’s a little over 6” long, 2.75” tall, and just shy of 2.25” deep, deliberately stripped almost entirely of soft curves. The top, left, and right edges are perfectly flat sheets of plastic, while circles surround the speaker vents and jut out just slightly on the front, bisected by a horizontal bar. On the back you’ll find the iHome logo pressed into the material, as well as vents on either side, and I/O ports beneath it. In addition to the audio-in and Micro-USB ports, there’s a simple power slider, Bluetooth pairing button, and an aux-out port that allows you to connect a second speaker. Rubber feet on the bottom prevent the speaker from sliding around.
Pairing is a simple process. Turn iBT24 on and press the Bluetooth button; it’ll hook right up to your wireless device. We were really impressed by the audio performance during our testing: for such a small speaker, it sounds surprisingly good in the highs, mids, and lows. iHome has balanced the sound with richness that’s unlike many other similarly sized devices. The speaker’s volume, which is mirrored from your device, is enough to be heard anywhere in a small room at its maximum level, and doesn’t suffer from serious sonic degradation at high levels. As a nice touch, the LED on the face of the speaker does simple beat matching, blinking back and forth along with your music. Our only issue with the sound is that there’s a quiet hissing when audio isn’t playing.
iBT24 is truly an impressive little speaker for the price, featuring overall audio quality that outstrips G-Project’s G-Grip, with visual appeal that many people will like, although iBT24 is notably not crushproof. For the price, you’d be hard pressed to find a better portable speaker in terms of pure audio quality. It does lack some of the accessories G-Project packs in though, namely a wall charger and wrist strap. If those are important to you, then you’ll be quite happy with G-Grip, but if audio its the key and you like the design, iBT24 is the way to go. It earns our high recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: SDI Technologies/iHome
Compatible: All Bluetooth-Capable iPads, iPhones + iPods