In the iM3, Altec Lansing has produced what looks like an impressive product from the outside, but it is left with its feet firmly off the podium due to some very average sound quality.
- Well designed, functional, includes remote
- Sound quality, expensive
The sound quality and high price tag make it hard to justify buying a portable speaker package like this solely for its design.
Price$ 289.95 (AUD)
The iM3 package is both aesthetically and functionally impressive. Lightweight, compact and finished in true iPod style, we could not fault the look of this product. Marketed at Apple's buyers, the iM3 houses an iPod dock and is equipped with a variety brackets to ensure most iPods - except the shuffle or earliest models - will fit snugly in place. There is also a separate input jack and cable for other company's devices.
The system can run off four AA batteries, which Altec Lansing states will power it for over 24 hours, and is also supplied with an AC plug and five adaptors to keep it running in almost every corner of the globe. Another feature of note is the separate iPod connection at the rear of the unit giving you the option of synchronizing your computer to your iPod without removing it from the speaker dock. Ordinarily the iPod port you plug into the dock is also the port you connect to the computer, so these are mutually exclusive activities; but this is not the case on the iM3.
The dock itself houses a power switch and volume control, while nestled neatly in the rear you'll find a remote, which covers most of the basics including volume and track change functions. As much as the remote is a handy inclusion we found the controls a little stiff for our liking. Often we would have to push a button more than once to get a response.
The iM3 is a neat package, swivelling open to expose the dock and buttons, allowing the speakers to stand upright when in use. When closed, it is an extremely small and lightweight package that can easily be thrown in a back pack and forgotten about. The inclusion of a protective carry bag further adds to the excellent portability of this product.
Unfortunately the looks were let down by the sound. On initial listening the memory of painting a hollow room while listening to an old tinny radio sprang to mind.
As with most portable speaker systems the unit is notably top heavy in deliverance, lacking greatly in the lower frequencies. The highs are over-accentuated and sound quite thin and combined with the lack of bass, create an overly bright sound that isn't particularly pleasant to listen to.
The speakers deliver 2 watts each and handled volume well. They only distorted marginally at higher levels, but with the quality of the sound we're not sure you would want to push it that far.
The directional capabilities of the speaker system were also poor, although this is common with most portable systems. Your best bet is to be listening from directly in front of the system, as at any sort of angle the quality of the audio further degrades.
Unfortunately the excellent look and portability of this product are compromised by below average sound quality and the price tag.
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