Hands on: iRiver Wave Home

CES 2009: Year of the Widget
CES 2009: Year of the Widget

iRiver's stand is one of the calmer destinations at this year's CES - an oasis of peaceful white light with just a handful of gadgets perching stylishly on underlit shelves.

All the more appropriate then, that the MP3 player company's newest offering is sleep-related - the Wave Home smart alarm clock.

This pyramidal device is basically an angled 7-inch display with an Ethernet connection. The bright, colourful 800x400-pixel display shows time, date on your choice of wallpapers, and comes packed with a variety of webbed-up widgets.

Fidget with widgets

You can check the weather, look up sports scores, read the headline and all the usual widget-style fun - apparently it's an open standard so iRiver is hoping for some third party developer action if the Wave Home takes off.

It's also a standalone messaging device, with a 1.3MP webcam enabling video chat and VOIP. iRiver is still cagey about which services the final product will support, and we didn't see this feature working.

SMS, picture messaging and email, on the other hand, were up and running, with the Wave Home shipping with a radio frequency remote control that lets you compose messages without bothering with the touchscreen.

Sound and vision

Naturally, the Wave Home is also a fairly decent media player, with a 2.5W speaker and 1GB of RAM. There's a USB port, a SD card slot, line out audio and some secure payment system for online purchases that no one on the stand could explain - it could be an RFID chip, but don't count on it.

iRiver hasn't neglected the basics either - if you just want a plain old alarm clock radio, a calendar/contacts application and FM radio mean the Wave Home should be fully granny-friendly.

The Wave Home should be arriving in the US and UK in the 'late summer' costing under $400 (£275).

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.