IPod clock radios are popular because they're usually inexpensive (typically $100 or less), have a small footprint, and offer additional features that bookshelf and portable speaker systems usually lack, such as AM/FM radio, alarms, sleep settings, and time display. Don't expect stellar sound quality, though.
iHome updates its alarm clocks frequently, and the iHome iA91 (*Est. $100) is the newest update of the well-reviewed iP90 line. The iA91 includes all the features reviewers liked about the iP90, plus a remote control that, although simplified, beats out the iP90's control because it actually works. The iA91 has also slimmed down, just a bit -- it measures 10.44 inches wide, compared to the iP90's 10.67 inches. But the iA91's most important improvement over the iP90 is its compatibility with iHome's companion apps: iHome + Sleep, and iHome + Radio. Reviewers largely ignore the iHome + Radio app, but rave that the iHome + Sleep app is "phenomenal." It allows you to, among other things, fine-tune the iA91's alarm settings, check up on weather, and track your sleep statistics. While the iHome apps aren't new, having an app-compatible clock radio in this price range is.
Most reviewers are pleased with the iHome iA91's sound. A couple note that its smaller size has also reduced its audio capability somewhat, but one reviewer feels that the average user won't notice the difference, and most are simply so happy with the apps that they don't seem to care. Other favorite features include the nap timer, which lets you set a wake-up time without changing your established morning alarms, and a sync button that lets you automatically sync the clock radio's time to your iPod's always-correct clock.
If you prefer a more compact clock radio, the iHome iA5 (*Est. $60) is also worth a look. This iPod alarm clock measures 9 inches wide by 4 inches deep, and was iHome's first "app-enhanced" clock, so it is also compatible with the free iHome+Sleep app. The iHome iA5 includes a Sure-Alarm feature, which ensures the alarm will still go off even if your iPhone is interrupted by a phone call or some other issue. It also includes all the standard features, including programmable snooze, gradual wake and sleep settings, and a line-in jack for other MP3 players. Although the iHome iA5 doesn't include an AM/FM radio tuner (the iA91 does), if your iPhone or iPod Touch can access a wireless network, you can use the iHome + Radio app to stream Internet radio.
If price isn't a concern -- and you want to use your iPod clock radio for more than casual listening -- reviewers feel that the Boston Acoustics Duo-i Plus (*Est. $250) easily beats the sound quality of cheaper systems. The Duo-i Plus works with the iPhone and dockable iPods, and it charges these devices while they're docked. Two auxiliary inputs are also included for additional MP3 players. Features include an AM/FM radio, dual alarms, a remote control, and a display that automatically adjusts its brightness based on lighting conditions.
Another one of the Duo-i Plus's popular features is the 360-degree snooze bar, which means you can engage the snooze function by tapping any part of the silver trim around the speaker's top. The speakers are shielded for the iPhone, and it's easy to set new alarms. Audio quality is better than that of most iPod clock radios. "I was pleased with the audio performance of the Duo-i plus at moderate levels -- the speakers handle most of the frequency range with grace and clarity, delivering crisp-but-never-too-bright output," writes Tim Gideon of at PCMag.com. However, he notes that music distorts at high volumes, which is unfortunate for a system that costs $250; most critics balk at paying so much for an alarm clock.