Waking up is no easy task for most of us. iLuv has been working hard at designing an alarm clock to make it that much easier for us. Their new iMM178 Vibe Plus Alarm Radio will not only wake you up to your favorite tunes, it will vibrate your pillow until you’re out of bed. If that doesn’t wake you up, you should probably be googling something along the lines of “foghorn alarm clock”. Aside from the detachable bed shaker, iLuv’s iMM178 Vibe Plus alarm clock is a nice speaker dock for playing and charging your iPod/iPhone. It has a built in AM/FM radio, large backlit LCD with date and time, and dual alarm modes.
iLuv’s Vibe Plus looks like a fairly pricey clock radio. The screen is big and beautiful. The midnight black background and blue pixelated font looks great in the day time, and even better at night. The time is large enough to read in your groggiest and blurriest state. The display brightness is adjustable; it can get pretty bright so turn it down if you don’t like nightlights. iLuv Vibe Plus is all black with chrome accents. There are two chrome rotary dials on the top; one for adjusting volume, the other for adjusting the station or your alarm clock. There are less than 10 buttons on the top of the speaker set, all of which all clearly labeled and common to find on any clock radio. Your iPod/iPhone sits on the 30 pin dock connector located in the center of the top of the device. The small bed shaker plugs into the back of the device with a 3.5″ auxiliary cable. The cord is thin and long. The bed shaker is about an inch and a half thick, with poor placement and a thin pillow, you may feel it.
Vibe Plus is a digital dual alarm clock with universal iPod dock. It will play and charge all iPods and iPhones (even iPhone 4!). There is a time sync feature where the Vibe Plus will automatically set the clock from your iPod/iPhone. Its two alarms can be set to 7, 5, or 2 for everyday, weekday, or weekend. You can choose to wake up to your music or one of the 7 unique buzzer alarms. The sleep timer is adjustable so you don’t have to use the default 9 minutes like on most other clocks. The music/alarm will play from the dock speakers, or from the bed shaker under your pillow, or even both. The bed shaker has three volume levels low, medium, and high. It vibrates in intervals much like your cell phone, but more intense. Some of the other features you may expect are programmable radio stations, battery backup, treble/bass control, and autoscan.
Waking up to a vibrating pillow was actually quite pleasant. It didn’t necessarily make me want to get out of bed so quickly, but it woke me up for sure. Music from the alarm clock fades in making for a more gentle wakeup. It’s nice that the bed shaker can play the music or an alarm tone, especially if you live with roommates. But, personally, I’d prefer to hear my music out of the clear speakers rather than muffled under my pillow (playing from both isn’t a bad option either). It’s apparent that the bed shaker was not designed to play quality sounding music, it was designed to keep a small form and get loud. The speakers on the Vibe Clock Radio, on the other hand, sound one thousand times clearer than the bed shaker speaker. We were pleased that it also sounds substantially better than the predecessor that we tested, the iLuv iMM153. We had a tough time listening to our music on that original unit. On the other hand, the iLuv’s Vibe Plus speaker quality is really pretty good, and I=it doesn’t actually get loud enough to the point where the music sounds distorted. It will definitely get loud enough to fill your bedroom though, as long as you’re not hosting any dance parties in there. As a bed-side alarm clock it sounds great, but as an iPod speaker dock it’s just “pretty good”. It won’t be meeting any audiophile’s specifications. The audio quality wasn’t the only thing we loved more than the Vibe Plus’s predecessor. The previous model had a boring design to it, Vibe Plus has a more modern and sophisticated look to it. The display on the new model is a huge improvement; it’s much larger, clearer, and displays much more. It even displays the date and the audio track you’re listening to. Lastly, the previous iMM153 model did not have a speaker on the bed shaker.
It also did bother us to find no iPod controls on the base of the iMM178. You can only play and pause your music. To skip tracks you need to use your iPod. Setting the device’s alarm is just as easy to set as any other clock radio. It was nice to be able to customize the snooze time. Having just two alarms might seem troublesome for those of us with fluctuating sleep hours, but keep in mind, you can use your iPod or iPhone’s alarm clock.
Natural wake-ups are ideal; nobody really wants to be scared half to death by a buzzer or siren every morning. iLuv’s innovative iMM178 Vibe Plus Dual Alarm Clock is a gigantic step towards achieving the more natural wake-up. Waking up to a vibrating pillow with music that fades in is quite pleasant. iMM178 has improved in huge ways since its predecessor. It sounds better, looks modern and elegant, has a nice large and capable display, and even plays music out of the bed shaker. Don’t waste $30 buying a charging dock when you can have a clock radio that can do so much more. The iMM178 Vibe Plus Dual Clock Radio with bed shaker retails for $99.99, but can be found for just over $70 on Amazon.
Good: More natural wake-up, 7-5-2 dual alarm clock, charges all iPods and iPhones, large clock display, improved speakers
Bad: No iPod controls, No Auxiliary Input, Could be louder