iHome’s new iW2 ($200) is an AirPlay-enabled speaker that allows you to send audio from any iOS (4.2 and up) device right to it with the click of a button. It has finally untethered me from my white-wired earbuds, and transformed my living room into a place of musical bliss.
The iHome is wrapped in a nice, understated mesh, and on its top sits a handsome piano-black panel with backlit buttons. I like it all. And the iW2 will blend in well on most desks or shelves, as it’s actually a lot more compact than it looks.
The iW2 is also incredibly easy to set up. Download the iHome Connect app, connect your iPhone to the iW2 via the included cable, enter your Wi-Fi password, done. You can even skip those steps if you plug the iW2 in via its ethernet port.
And the streaming — it’s too easy! Thanks to Apple’s AirPlay technology, once set up, the iW2 is so easy to use, your mother could operate it without a single call to your for tech support.
And, while it’s not the loudest speaker, the iW2 does sound good and excelled at filling my living room with with everything from Tupac to Peter And The Wolf.
I don’t like stuttering music, and that’s especially true when I’m dancing to my favorite song. So I was distressed when then iW2 suffered from playback stutter several times and, for an hour one day, refused to connect to any AirPlay device on my network.
I contacted iHome about this connectivity issue, and they told me it was most likely related to high network traffic, and that playback stutter can occur if your network is swamped. I found that connecting the iW2 to my router via ethernet made the problem all but disappear, however, so it seemed to be a WiFi issue. Since the iW2 only supports the older 802.11g WiFi technology and not the newer (and much faster) 802.11n speeds, I have a sneaking suspicion that’s where the problem lies.
Whatever the cause, it wasn’t persistent, and since that time the iW2 has worked almost perfectly. Just keep in mind, all Airplay devices can suffer from audio playback stuttering and connectivity issues. That’s the price you pay, at least for now, for your untethered musical enjoyment.
iHome’s iW2 let’s you easily stream audio from any AirPlay-enabled device to any room in which it sits. I use it to fill my living room with the sounds of my Spotify playlists, all while keeping my iPhone in my pocket (where it belongs!). If that sounds good to you, I suggest you consider getting one for yourself, and keep your white earbuds reserved for the gym.