Amazon’s Echo Spot, introduced late last year, smartly combined the power of Alexa with a more traditional clock radio type form factor and interface, complete with a screen for video viewing and calls. Now, the Google Assistant-powered competitors are starting to emerge. At CES this week, iHome is debuting its own take on the “smart” clock radio, with the iGV1 device.
Unlike Echo Spot, the iGV1 doesn’t have a video screen – but that could be to its advantage, as it could appeal to those who aren’t comfortable bringing a video screened-device into their bedroom. At $139.99, however, it’s a little bit more than the $129.99 Spot, but offers a similar feature set including smart home controls, music streaming, voice control/assistance, and more.
The device itself is a small, gray fabric-covered speaker with a phantom dimmable display that can be turned off if you prefer to sleep in pitch black. The display only shows the current time and alarm. On the top, is a white shell with volume controls and an integrated snooze button. The option to smack the button may make more sense for those who don’t want to ask Google Assistant to shut off the alarm by voice as soon as they wake up.
Through Google Assistant, the device offers the standard feature set of voice assistance, the ability to play music from streaming services like Google Play, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube Music, smart home control – including compatibility with iHome’s own SmartPlug devices – and support for Google Cast technology.
Specifically, if music is playing on another Google Cast device, you can Cast that music to the iGV1 using your phone. You can also Cast music from your phone or PC over Wi-Fi to the iGV1, or play music wirelessly on it via Bluetooth. The music plays on the device via its Reson8 speaker chamber, which iHome claims offers “clarity, depth and power.”
Another nice thing about connected clock radios compared with traditional devices is that you don’t have to set the clock. Instead, the iGV1 will sync with NTP (Network Time Protocol) for clock accuracy, once connected to your home’s Wi-Fi.
The iGV1 also ships with a 1 Amp USB port to charge your phone or other mobile device at night, but not an extra charging cable for that.
iHome says the iGV1 will be available “soon” at retailers, but didn’t offer a launch time frame.