i-Luv iMM190 App Station Review

Gone are the days of boring old boxy looking alarm clocks that sit on our night stands waiting to annoy us in the morning. First iPod alarm clocks became popular, now iPod alarm clocks with apps are the new hot alarm clock to have. Yep, apps have become the new LCD for alarm clocks. The latest such type of modern day alarm clock, is the iLuv App Station that aims to leave a small foot print as an iPod/iPhone dock on your night stand, while also working as a fully functional alarm clock – sans LCD.

The iLuv App Station has a very clean design that can sit either horizontally or vertically. It has several buttons on its side: power, volume controls, and snooze (my favorite button). The device is powered on by pushing the power button for a few seconds and then a blue light appears. To shut it off you just press it again. There is also a AUX IN jack for connecting it to other music players, and the device can be powered by either the included AC/DC Adapter, or with 6 “AA” batteries (not included) – making it portable to take with you.

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The device doesn’t take much brain power to operate. Just dock your iPod or iPhone and turn the App Station on. The App Station has a plastic arm that extends to adjust to your specific generation of iPhone or iPod. This arm also helps holds your iPod/iPhone in place when you rotate the clock horizontally. Fortunately, the dock base doesn’t require you to switch out different cradles to accommodate different generations of the iPod or iPhone. However, I was disappointed that I couldn’t dock my iPhone 4 into the App Station while it is dressed in its case. So off my little reception cape went.

Once I docked my iPhone 4 – there was no notification that there is an app available for it until you actually load the App store. Once you load up the app store, you get a notification that there is an app available for you to download to use with the App Station. Once you download the the App Station app – you are ready to rock and roll. The app is pretty simple to use and offers a clean interface. The app comes with an alarm clock feature, a weather feature, and it also lets you play your songs from iTunes right below the clock screen. You can change the app’s alarm clock theme settings to one of three different colors – pink being one of them. If you rotate the App Station – the app’s clock will rotate with you and display the time vertically or horizontally. Once you have the app open you can easily set the alarm or choose a song to be woken up with from your playlist. As for the weather function – oddly enough, the app detected my location with a temperature of 165 degrees… I have no idea what that is about and it didn’t seem to change at all. I know it’s hot in New York right now, but it ain’t hell here! The app also doesn’t work in the background on iOS4. However, I’m confident that an update will soon fix that, but in the meantime you’ll have to remember to set your clock and load your app before going to bed – or you may not get woken up. However you can certainly use the iPhone’s native alarm clock with this dock – it will work just as well, however features like the physical snooze button won’t work.

As for the App Station’s sound quality, it isn’t the best – but for what it is, it isn’t half bad. I’ve heard many bad alarm clock radios in my day, and this is certainly much better than your run of the mill alarm clock that you would purchase in a drugstore or Kmart. Songs with a heavy low-end certainly didn’t bring down the house but at-least there was no noise or static – which is all to common with many sub $100 alarm clocks.

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The iLuv App Station is a dandy little clock that can certainly replace your traditional alarm clock, or even replace an iPod alarm clock with an LCD displaying the time. The App Station’s small footprint, nice design, and simple operation will appeal to those of all ages. The App Station also offers decent sound quality for what it is, and its inclusion of a multi-purpose app is certainly a nice touch, completing the package and making it a unique device. Hopefully, iLuv will upgrade the app soon so that it can play nicely with iOS4 and also fix that wonky weather feature. Some might be skittish about the App Station’s price – which can range from $89.99 to $78.16. But for what you get, it’s definitely worth it in my book. Just be careful when you hit snooze – because extreme violence when tired, will not only harm your clock, but also send your iPhone or iPod flying.

The Good: Nice design which can rotate, decent sound quality for its size, is compatible with almost all generations of iPhones, iPods, and Nanos and no cradles are needed to swap out different devices, inclusion of a multi-purpose app is a nice touch, app lets you control your playlist right from the clock screen, portable enough for traveling and can run on batteries, can double as a digital photo frame/ portable theater

The Bad: Would have liked to be able to dock my iPhone 4 with its case on, weather feature seems to be off, doesn’t run in the background on iOS4, would have liked an FM/AM Radio feature so you can listen to the news in the morning.

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