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iHome iBN97 Bluetooth Clock Radio Preview

iHome iBN97 Bluetooth Clock Radio

iHome iBN97 Bluetooth Clock Radio


  • Product Name: iBN97 Bluetooth Clock Radio
  • Manufacturer: iHome
  • Review Date: March 16, 2014 06:00
  • MSRP: $99.99
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now


  • Bluetooth wireless audio
    Send digital audio wirelessly from your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Blackberry or other Bluetooth-enabled audio device
  • Inserts for resting devices in portrait or landscape modes
    Enjoy your music or videos in any position while keeping your iPhone, iPod, or other device fully charged via USB port
  • NFC Technology
    NFC (near field communication) Technology, Instantly connects your NFC-capable device to Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming

Wake and Sleep

  • Wake or sleep to Bluetooth audio, FM radio, built-in tones, or buzzer
    Start or end your day just the way you want it to sound


  • Speakerphone features
    Integrated microphone, ATI SoundClear voice echo cancelling and answer end call controls
  • Reson8 speaker chambers
    Specially designed sealed speaker enclosures deliver astounding clarity, depth and power

Alarm Clock

  • Programmable snooze time
    Lets you sleep in a little or a lot with snooze time between 1 and 29 minutes
  • Gradual Wake and Gradual Sleep
    Gently increasing/decreasing alarm and sleep volumes ease waking and going to bed
  • Dual Alarm with weekday/weekend alarm settings
    Two independent alarms let you wake to Bluetooth audio, built-in tones, FM radio, or buzzer with 7-5-2 alarm settings for full week, work week or weekend with separate wake times/alarm sources to suit your lifestyle


  • Universal 100-240V AC adaptor
    Switching power supply works just about anywhere in the world to power your unit


  • Aux-in jack
    Listen to aux audio sources (e.g., computer, CD player)
  • Sure Alarm battery backup for alarm during power interruptions
  • 8 level display dimmer control

Executive Overview

iHome has cornered the market, in my opinion, on docking alarm clocks. They have great features (like dual alarms) and they just work. The new iBN97 is a new model that, for the first time that we've seen, adds NFC to an alarm clock. Of course, it also includes Bluetooth for wireless connectivity from virtually any mobile device. That makes this a fully wireless clock radio that has the same features as most of iHome's docking products—and likely they saved some licensing fees by eliminating the need for a lightning dock. And the best thing is that the iBN97 also costs the same as most of iPhone's other higher-end clock radios. The iBN97 is very similar to the iBT97 except that it adds NFC capability which, with a properly-equipped phone, means that you only have to get it close (placing it in the included docking bracket) to sync the devices together and stream audio to the iBN97. 

Physically, the unit measures 10.75” wide and stands just 3.4" high. The iBN97 has the same oversized, dimmable LCD screen as other iHome models and features a nice dark silver and gray color that looks really high tech. The buttons are all illuminated, so you can see them in the dark easily and they match the 8 dimmer settings of the LCD screen. In terms of features, you've got those dual alarms we love, a pair of small front-firing speakers that are paired with a specially-designed chamber to give them a bit more bass, FM radio (with an attached rear wire antenna and 6 presets), and controls for answering calls on the top of the unit (making it a full-on speakerphone if you so desire). The rear-mounted USB port has a 2.1-amp output, so it can handle iPads or other high-current USB-powered devices. A possible downside (though not so much considering you have Bluetooth) is that the USB cable doesn't also transmit audio to the iHome. If you do have a device you want to connect to the iHome iBN97, you can use the included 3.5mm audio cable. You also can't synchronize time automatically from your iPod or iPhone—a feature we've enjoyed on previous docking models. An insert fits into the top of the unit to hold smartphones or even tablets.

iBT97 clock radio

The iBN97 doesn't have automatic input switching (besides that which is set in the alarm functions) so if you pair with a Bluetooth device, that input stays active even when you're not actively connected. That means that while the iBN97 will automatically pick up where you left off and play through your song list (or answer your calls when they come in), it also won't switch to radio when you disconnect.

While setting the clock is now a manual process, there is a backup battery. Unless you lose power AND the battery goes dead, you should only have the set the clock once. The iBN97 also nixes the daylight savings time switch on the back that was a favorite feature of older-generation clocks. Since there's no real docking, app control, dual device charging, and even a remote control aren’t part of the iHome iBN97 ecosystem.

iBT97 clock radio angled

If Bluetooth or NFC ease-of-use appeals to you, then the iBN97 is a great additional to the iHome family. If you need some of the more legacy features, then you can always pick up one of the other models from iHome. I'd recommend checking out the iDL45 or the iDL95.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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