If you haven’t heard of iHome products before now, they manufacture a wide variety of home audio accessories for iOS and Android devices. If you’re into Bluetooth speakers, they’ve got you covered. You’ll find Bluetooth speakers in just about every shape and size on the company’s website.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been testing out iHome’s awkwardly named iBN26 Bluetooth speaker with built-in speakerphone. Yes, that is both the model number and product name. I know, it’s weird. Either way, if you’re in the market for a new speaker setup, you may want to give this one a closer look…
Inside of the box, you’ll find an instruction manual, small auxiliary cable, power adapter, and the iBN26. Nothing too flashy for packaging or contents, but just enough to get the job done. Unfortunately, that power adapter is the only source of power for the iBN26. I would have liked to see a rechargeable battery or at least the option to install a few AA batteries, but that’s not the case here.
Check out our video review below:
iHome’s iBN26 is a compact Bluetooth speaker that also has built-in NFC and USB charging. It’s small enough to fit in a corner on your desk, but emits sound beyond its size. On the back of the device, there’s a Bluetooth pairing button, USB port for charging a device, auxiliary input, and power input.
On the top, there are volume controls (for music and calls), as well as a play/pause button and power button that also function as answer/decline controls for calls. Also, in case you were wondering, it also has a built-in microphone to supplement the speakerphone capabilities.
Getting set up
Connecting the iBN26 to an iOS device is extremely simple. Turn on the speaker, press and hold the Bluetooth pairing button on the backside, and find/connect the “iHome iBN26” device listed within the Settings app’s Bluetooth preferences. If you’re using an NFC-enabled device, the process just got two steps easier. Just tap your smartphone over the NFC logo on top of the iBN26 and you’re basically done.
If you require power to your device for an extended listening session, use the USB port on the back with the cable included with your smartphone. You can also use the included auxiliary cable to pull in music from devices that lack Bluetooth connectivity.
Functionality and sound
I wouldn’t describe the iBN26 as being the best you can get, but it’s definitely far from the worst. While the housing may be wrapped with a speaker grille, don’t let that fool you. There are only two small speakers in this mini Bluetooth desktop companion, but thanks to what iHome calls the “Reson8” speaker chamber, the audio from this is nice loud. A small bump in the low-end frequencies wouldn’t hurt, but overall I was pleased.
As far as the speakerphone aspect goes, I have no complaints in this area. It works. Calls were loud and clear, with no trouble on either end of the conversation. If a call comes in while music is playing, you can use the flashing red and green answer/decline buttons on the top to acknowledge the call and automatically pause the music. When you’re done the music will resume playing.
I don’t have much to say here. It’s a Bluetooth speaker/speakerphone that works as advertised. As I mentioned before, it would have been nice if this was a portable audio solution with either replaceable or rechargeable batteries, but as a desktop speaker I have no problem leaving it plugged-in. The best part about iHome’s iBN26 is that it can be had for around $50 for the black model or $70 for the white/wood model. Check out the video review above for a closer look.