Altec Lansing iMT702 inMotion MAX iPod dock

The inMotion MAX measures 310 x 190 x 50mm with the dock drawer and stand folded away, so it is a pretty compact unit. As said, it features an iPod drawer which pops out of the front with the normal variety of inserts to best support your model of iPod or iPhone. The great thing about this is that if you are not using your iPod, you can hide the dock itself away - also a bonus when travelling with the iMT702.

Most of the front is covered with mesh, behind which lurk the four 2.5-inch drivers, with the dock drawer at the base and a small LCD display at the top. The display glows yellow, giving you track information from your iPod or info from the FM radio.

It is, however, only 45mm wide, so only displays eight characters at any time. Given the space available across the front of the unit, we'd have liked a little more out of the display, but as it, for the most part, duplicates information on the screen of your iPod this might not concern you.

Across the top of the unit you'll find discrete buttons flush with the housing. These feature digital(ish) characters which are a bronze colour, but they're not actually backlit - a sort of mock LCD effect. You'll find an on/off button, along with source selection, volume, track skip and ESS (Expanded Sound Stage). Strangely there isn't a play button.

Around the back you'll find a flip-down stand which is also a switch, powering off the device when it is stowed, so it won't turn on when travelling, which we like. The stand, when closed also covers the power socket, auxiliary input and plug for the FM aerial.

We like the fact that the stand folds away, but it does mean that the unit can suffer from a bit of wobble when set-up. If you start poking it around, rather than using the supplied remote control, you'll find there is a fair amount of wobble. It never feels like it is going to fall over, but it does encourage you to use the remote.

Small rubber feet do try to keep this to a minimum, but when you have a slim light unit, this is always going to be a problem.

The iMT702 has been clearly designed to be portable, as there is also an internal rechargable battery which will give you about 3.5 hours, making this a versatile offering.

Overall the quality of the design and build is good, it looks slick and smart and is not blighted by the cheap look that often afflicts iPod docks. The sliding dock drawer is perhaps a slight letdown and we're not sure that it would stand the test of time if you are opening and closing it on a regular basis. However, it is nice that you can hide the dock away when you don't have your 'Pod in it.

The remote is an odd case. One bonus point before we go on is that there is a slot to securely stow the remote on the back of the device when not in use. It is such a simple thing, but if you want a nice clear surface, it really makes a difference.

The remote reflects the controls on the top, giving you power, source, volume, skip and ESS, but also adds the important play/pause button. Beyond this there are four buttons (labelled P1 etc) for FM station presets.

These four P buttons have different functions in iPod mode, however, giving you shuffle and repeat options, as well as allowing you to skip through playlists. If you don't have any playlists, then you'll need to make some as there is no direct menu access, so you don't get full control here, which is disappointing.

The iMT702 supports iPhone fully, so you don't need to switch it to flight mode, and the unit won't suffer from the clicking or purring that mobile phone signals sometimes generate. An incoming call will pause music too.

So, let's move onto the radio. It's a standard FM radio, supplied with a substantial wire aerial, so if you do go mobile, that's one extra bit you'd have to take, so it isn't entirely practical. However with this arrangement the reception could potentially be pretty good. Once you have found your station of choice, you can easily assign them to a preset by holding appropriate button.

The sound overall is pretty impressive. The four-driver arrangement gives better range than some of the twin driver units we've seen, so this is one of the better iPod docks we have heard at this size. The ESS does make quite a difference, in reality rebalancing the treble and bass to give a more rounded performance; without ESS it does sound a little harsh, but if you are listening to speech it may be more appropriate.

The equaliser settings on your iPod will still have an impact, but you might find that turning it off makes the iMT702 give a better account for itself. There is plenty of bass, so you'll get that nice rich thump behind your music, but if you are listening to tracks that have heavy bass, you'll find that this gets distorted as the volume increases.

There is unfortunately a hiss from the speakers which you don't need to worry about at higher volumes, but if you want to listen to something on a low volume, you might find this adds noise to your music that you don't want - it also means that you get hiss when you pause the unit. Audiophiles won't be happy.

Verdict

Of the small format docks we've seen though, the inMotion MAX iMT702 gives a good account of itself (minus a few grumbles) in terms of sound performance. The volume is respectable too - certainly loud enough to provide the backdrop to your party or bring some music into your garden or beside the pool.

It is a shame then that the unit is let down by a few niggling points. Not having a direct play button on the dock itself seems crazy, whilst not being able to navigate the menu is a real shame.



>