There’s no arguing with the incredible popularity of the iPod so it’s no surprise that owners of the famous white slab are spoilt for choice when it comes to accessories. One of the most popular add-ons is a set of portable speakers enabling you to share your music when you’re out and about.
While Creative offers a white version of its TravelSound speakers that match the iPod’s colouring, Altec Lansing’s inMotion speakers are the only ones specifically designed with the latest generation of iPod in mind. This is reflected in the styling, with the white finish and curves closely echoing the object designed to fit at its centre. The inMotions can also be used with the upcoming iPod Mini though you’ll have to get an adaptor from Altec Lansing.
The design is ingenious. The speakers fold flat into a neat oblong that’s about the size of a book, perfect for transporting in a case or bag. When the time comes to blast those tunes, the base opens up and acts as an integrated stand for the speakers.
However, the inMotion is actually two products in one. As well as speakers, the iPod dock has been neatly integrated into the housing. This works in the same way as the regular dock - just pop the iPod in and when connected to your PC via the iPod’s Firewire cable it syncs with iTunes while charging. The difference is that the inMotion speakers are designed for portability and when powered by four AA batteries and will let you share your tunes away from your PC, and all without any unsightly cables. The downside is that the iPod batteries can’t power the speakers so you need to have the speakers plugged in or use more batteries.
When docked the iPod’s volume can only be controlled via the speakers though full navigation of the iPod is possible. The volume control works well, with separate buttons for raising or lowering the volume, which happens smoothly as you hold them down. At the rear is a line in, so you can use the inMotions as desktop speakers and a headphone socket.
So we’ve clearly established the inMotions’ design credentials, but what of sound quality. Altec Lansing makes much of its Maxx Bass technology installed in the inMotions, but I nevertheless wasn’t expecting much from the one-inch high speakers. I was pleasantly surprised by the power and clarity of the output, which truly belie the speaker’s modest dimensions. Undoubtedly, the inMotions benefit from having two drivers in each speaker. This ensures that there is mid-range oomph to accompany the top-end, which is often where mini-speakers fall down. There’s also a decent amount of volume on offer so you can fill a hotel room with sound, though at maximum volume distortion inevitably rears its head. The only real issue is that as the speakers are so close together there’s precious little in the way of a stereo effect, but that’s the sonic price you pay for compactness.
As for the price, the £100 Altec Lansing want for the speakers is on the steep side, but like the iPod itself, at least you know you’re paying for quality.
The inMotions are the best portable speakers for the iPod to date. They look good, sound great, and enable you to charge and sync your iPod in a neat and tidy package. You can even use them as desktop speakers. The price is on the high side but you're getting quality for every penny you pay.