Are you in the market for an iPod speaker system that is both portable, rechargeable and has a built-in FM radio? I’m going to tell you about Altec Lansing’s inMotion iM600 Digital Speaker System for iPod that happens to fit that criteria quite well.
Altec Lansing has been making speakers for computers and home theater systems for many years now. So I was expecting the iM600’s to be have above average build and sound quality.
iM600 speaker system
3 iPod size adapters
The inMotion iM600 is made of shiny Black plastic, with a Black metal mesh speaker grill that covers almost the entire face of the device. This speaker system folds flat for transport as you can see in the image above. A button in the middle of the face allows the iPod dock and support stand to unfold when pressed.
Back view of the folded system. The speaker is 11 inches wide, 1.7 inches deep and 6 inches high and weighs 2.1 pounds.
When you press the unfold button, the dock folds down. Included with the iM600 are 3 adapters so that you can use this system with iPods that have a universal dock connector on the bottom. This includes the iPod nano, iPod video, iPod mini and even the new iPhone. The iPhone does complain that the iM600 is not compatible with it, but it seems to work just fine for listening to audio.
The flip out dock has an On/Off power button and volume -/+ adjustment buttons. The power button is surrounded by a Blue LED that lights up when the speakers are on.
There are also 4 small buttons along the top edge of the speaker. There is a source button, SFX, and Prev / Next track buttons. The Source button allows you to switch between the iPod, FM radio and Auxiliary input. The SFX button turns on the Stereo Field Expander feature. SFX makes the speakers sound farther apart than they really are. When it is turned on, it makes music sound really good. Not sure why they don’t just have it always on and do away with the button though… The Prev / Next track buttons work as you would expect.
A small backlit LCD located on the top face of the speaker shows the current source (iPod, FM, or AUX) and battery capacity status. Whenever you press a button on the iM600, the LCD will light up for a few seconds.
This speaker system is nice and compact, which allows it to fit easily in small spaces.
When the dock / stand is flipped open, various connection points are exposed on the back of the speaker. There is a 3.5mm AUX in jack, subwoofer out jack, power jack, composite video out and mini USB. With the auxiliary jack you can use the iM600 as an external speaker for other audio devices (MP3 players, CD players, etc.). The subwoofer out jack is for connecting the optional subwoofer designed specifically for the iM600. With the composite video out jack, you can show your iPod’s photos and videos through your television. I tested this with my iPod video, which worked fine. This feature didn’t work at all with the iPhone though.
I’m not sure what the mini USB jack is for. Nothing is mentioned about it in the included user guide or the product page on Altec Lansing’s web site.
The built-in FM radio is adequate as far as reception goes. You can save 4 channel presets using the small IR remote included with the speaker.
The iM600 is a portable system and has rechargeable Li-ion batteries that are rated for 7 hours of continuous play. From my testing, I found this to be pretty accurate. If you prefer to just leave the system plugged into an outlet, your iPod’s batteries will be charged while it is docked.
As far as portability, it’s just too bad that a carrying case isn’t included to help protect the system when you’re transporting it.
Regarding sound quality, the inMotion iM600 sounds surprisingly good for such a small system. The dual 2-inch neodymium drivers are optimized for high-frequency extension and you can crank the volume up significantly before the quality of the sound degrades. The volume level goes from 1 up to 40. I tend to listen at a setting of 15 which easily fills a small room with good full sound. At around 30, the speakers start to vibrate and the sound quality gets pretty bad.
One thing I did notice is that if you put your ear up to the speakers, you will hear a hiss in the background of very low music and definitely when the iPod is paused. You don’t notice this hiss while music is playing, so it didn’t really bother me.
All in all, I do like the inMotion iM600 Digital Speaker System for iPod. It’s a nice compact system, that is very easy to use and has above average sound.