Altec Lansing inMotion Compact
Give your tunes some welly outdoors
Review Speaker maker Altec Lansing has had a Compact member of its inMotion family on sale for some time, but it recently revamped the portable speaker to bring its electronics in line with the demands of Apple's 'Works with iPhone' certification.
Altec Lansing's inMotion Compact: new angle
And if you're going to tinker with a product's insides, you may as well give outside a make-over too. So, out goes the old Compact's rounded rectangle look, replaced by a parallelogram cross-section designed to tilt the speaker back and provide a flat edge for it to stand on.
The racked-back design also allows Altec to dispense with the old Compact's pout-like dock unit. Here, it's in a recessed section of the speaker's face, ready to take the universal dock unit that came with your player - Altec doesn't supply any.
Since this is a speaker that Altec expects you'll want to carry around, the company has fitted the new Compact - aka the iMT320 - with a leather-look padded-but-rigid plastic cover the folds first up over the two front-facing 2in full-range drivers and the iPod space, and again to clip onto the speaker's top side, protecting the power and volume keys.
Won't stay upright without the stand
The canny part is that if you fold the cover the other way, it's positioned to provided extra stand-like support to the back of the speaker. The small flap you pull to release the cover here tucks into a slot to keep it all in place.
The cover is clamped to the base of the Compact by a trio of screws. You might think that means you can remove the cover, but you'll find Altec has adopted a belts and braces approach: it's glued the cover on too. Besides, taking the cover off only exposes a flaw in the Compact's parallelogram design: without the stand, it falls over backwards.
Can be battery powered for portability
Plugging in a set of four AAs - good for 24 hours' continual playback - into the battery compartment only serves to shift the speaker's centre of gravity further away from the front, but does at least mean you can listen to the Compact when you're out and about.
Altec's claim that the Compact folds "as small as a book" is stretching the point somewhat, but the speaker's shape does make it easy to carry, especially since there are not protuberances to get in the way. But the company's right to say the iMT320 works well with the iPhone, and it's good not to hear interference from the handset's cellular radio pumping out through the speaker.
Compact when covered
'Pumping out' is also a bit of an exaggeration. The Compact is capable of a moderate volume, but it's not particularly room filling. The audio quality isn't bad, but its slightly boxy tones don't excite either. It would be unfair to simply label it as a way of making the iPhone's built-in speaker a bit louder, but that's really all it's for. It's more like a good portable radio than a ghetto blaster.
You won't want to use the inMotion Compact as your main living room audio system, but for listening out loud in the kitchen or study - or while you're out on a picnic - this £60 speaker does the job in a thoroughly utilitarian way. ®
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