Alexa’s foray into 3rd party devices has definitely gotten interesting. I’ve tested quite a few, which you’ve probably seen here on this site. This latest bedside clock from iHome really introduces Alexa to non-Amazon devices in a grand way.
And, this might turn out to be my favorite non-Amazon Alexa device. iHome has put together a solid product that does a great job combining expected digital alarm clock functions with Alexa capabilities. Additionally, the speaker that iHome chose to incorporate into this device is definitely better than anything that Amazon produces with its Echo line, but also might be a strong contender to knock Sonos out of its lofty set. Music is rich even with the audio cranked high (the volume on this thing seems endless).
The device works great for using Alexa commands to set the alarm, timers, etc. and it works with any of the skills from the Alexa skill store. The bottom of the device provides the “Alexa” device color ring, which can be used to notify, but you can also customize the colors and light pulses. Additionally, there’s a handy USB port on the back so it can double as a smartphone charging station.
This really is a great device, however, there are a couple caveats that I must mention.
First off, its hearing range is not as good as Amazon’s, but that can be fixed with a firmware update. You definitely have to use a strong, resounding voice for the Alexa wake command.
Secondly, the iHome suffers from the same issue as any 3rd party device in that it doesn’t work with the ESP Behavior technology, i.e., only the closest Alexa device responds to queries. For example, with the iHome, when I ask “Alexa” for the time and there is another device in earshot, the iHome responds along with the other device in range. In a place where only Amazon devices exist, only the closest device will answer.
And, then thirdly, which also seems to be another 3rd party deficiency, is that the iHome does not work with the Amazon Calling and Messaging feature. Again, this is the same for any 3rd party device, not just the one from iHome. It does support Bluetooth so you can pair your smartphone to use it as a speakerphone, it just doesn’t work with Amazon’s own technology.
I’ve reached out to iHome about these and am waiting for an answer. I’d love to at least finally get a good explanation about why 3rd party devices can’t use ESP Behavior and Calling and Messaging. Its possible that Amazon just limits this to their own devices.
In an place where there are no other Alexa devices, or they are nowhere near being in earshot, the caveats I’ve listed aren’t a big deal. However, if you have your house outfitted with Alexa devices already, this can be troublesome.
Amazon has this bedside clock for $150: iHome iAVS16 Alexa Bedside Speaker System with Far Field Voice, Bluetooth, and USB Charging
- Amazon Alexa is built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. Just Ask Alexa to play music, control your smart home, hear the news, check weather and more.
- The iAVS16 also allows you to play your music and answer calls over the Bluetooth wireless Connection.
- The iAVS16 works great with iHome smartplugs (sold separately), just Ask Alexa via your iAVS16 to turn off your lights, turn on a fan, Start the coffee and much more, all from the comfort of our Bed.
- The integrated light bar provides all the familiar Alexa-based experience while also allowing for always-on mood lighting with adjustable modes and colors.
- One-touch action buttons provide the quickest way to trigger a Series of events such as controlling your smartplugs and playing a Spotify music.
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