Announced last September and expected to launch in time for the 2010 holidays, iHome’s iW1 AirPlay speaker system will finally begin shipping in a a few days with orders starting August 31st at 2PM EST.
The iW1 weighs in at $300, the same price point as the highly regarded Sonos Play:3 connected speaker system. But there are some significant differences in how these two products move music around your home. The iHome speaker receives audio wirelessly directly from Apple products, such as an iPhone or computer running iTunes, via AirPlay technology – which hasn’t yet lived up to its potential. On one hand, you should be able to stream just music from just about any iPhone app to the iW1. Yet, you’re obviously restricted to the Apple ecosystem.
By comparison, Sonos streams audio from the Internet or home computer and you’d use your smartphone as a remote (if you so choose) – including Android-based handsets. In my household, this means that my wife and I can both control the Sonos experience from any phone or computer while the AirPlay experience is more a 1:1 relationship. Of course Sonos also provides a whole-home solution as you add more wirelessly connected speakers. But, as compelling as Sonos is, the charging dock of the iW1 appeals (see here).
Video of both premium wireless sound systems follow…