Lansing, in an update to their original inMotion, have birthed the inMotion
iM3. The differences are aesthetic and size related, with the addition
of an IR remote that allows for basic playback manipulation of the docked
iPod. With this solution, mobility is allegedly moved to a new level:
a user can listen to his tunes while in a hotel room, in the office,
or any other personal space. But with four measly 28mm speakers, do
the inMotion iM3 rock out, or do they sing the blues? Listen up, and
Below is a list of feature highlights:
: These speakers were truly designed with the traveler
in mind. Included in the box is a set of international power plugs.
In addition, the sub-one-pound weight of the iM3 makes it a feather
to carry around inside of the included iM3-branded carrying case.
Although the iM3 was very much designed to fit an iPod, the auxiliary
audio input allows any audio device with a headphone jack to be connected
to the speakers.
Within the box is a power adapter, but there is also the option of running
the speakers off of 4 AA batteries (not included), which will provide
sound for 24 hours, according to Altec Lansing – who say YES! to bringing
your iPod and iM3 speakers with on the weekend camping trip.
The remote, with an iPod connected, will allow for playback control,
including volume. Volume is only changed through the unit – when docked,
the volume on the iPod stays constant.
Although I don’t want to give it away too early in the review, the sound
is outstanding considering the source (see "LISTENING EXPERIENCE" for full description of sound quality).
(as of Jan 05)
Lansing inMotion iM3
x 8 x
x 11.91 x 6.48
I’ve compared the iM3 speakers to its most worthy competitors: the Bose
SoundDock and the JBL On Stage. All three take on various interesting "modern" shapes, with the inMotion iM3 weighing the least
– which increases the mobility factor. The most expensive, the Bose
SoundDock, has received mixed reviews, while the JBL On Stage has been
proclaimed a good value.
box is attractive (great for marketing) with a modern gray and white
color scheme. A sticker reveals that the inMotion also works with the
(fatter) iPod Photo.
gives you everything you need to travel with your iPod, except for batteries
for the unit. Included is an AC power adapter, power jacks for several
countries, seat clips for various iPods or other MP3 players, a male-male
headphone cable, user instructions (in about six languages in case you
have trouble picking one), plastic case, and the inMotion iM3.
unit itself, described by the Altec Lansing site as paper-back size,
is very portable, although not quite paper-back size.
The included remote is very slim, and carries on the "milky white"
color scheme that we’ve all grown to embrace, (right?). The remote can:
turn on/off the device, move forwards/backwards a track, fast forward/rewind,
play/pause, and adjust volume up and down. Regarding the performance
of the remote – this is one of those "line of sight" remotes
that require the user to be close to the receiver for the signal to
The rear of the speakers houses the headphone input jack (for use with
other sources using a miniplug audio out), a power on/off switch (used
to conserve power when batteries are installed), an iPod cable jack
(for use with USB/FireWire docking/syncing), and a power port which
charges your iPod when docked.
iPod, when docked, really looks as if it is comfortable. Well…it is.
The fit is perfectly snug, and the white/gray/circular theme is prevalent
the base of the device is the standby button (power on/off is achieved
using the switch on back), a power status LED (shines green when on,
amber when low on battery), volume up/down, and IR port.
The rear of
the device, while opened, is still modest in size. The footprint of
the iM3 is small.
Whip out your imagination, and imagine that the above iPod is actually
another device – say, a Creative Zen Micro. If this were the case, (and
it is, right?) – you’d need to connect the Zen Micro via the attached
headphone jack. Remote functionality for volume would then remain, but
you obviously would ‘t be able to use remote playback controls. In such
a case of using a non-iPod with the iM3 (how dare you!), you will need
to swap out the seat clip…
flat one, shown on the right. The other clips are used for the iPod
variations, including the Photo and mini.
at the end of the day, before you retire to bed, you’ll want to rest
the iM3 inside of the good quality and protective case. The outside
is vinyl, and the inside is a very soft (almost suede-like) material.
And now onto probably the most important aspect of this review: sound
quality. Being an audiophile and having the ability to discern between
10.1kHz and 10.2kHz, I decided to put the speakers through a dynamic
test of music. After some tracks of Billy Joel, Beethoven, Nelly, Miles
Davis, and Metallica, I was able to make my call. Because of the small
nature of the speakers (28mm!), expecting desk-rattling bass production
would be truly unrealistic. With that presupposition in mind, I was
very surprised by the magnitude of bass that the iM3 was able to reproduce
without ever dipping below 60Hz (as per the speaks specs in the manual).
It accurately and strongly punched out the bass line of Metallica’s
"Enter Sandman" (a true classic), which, along with it’s crystal
clear highs (coming from four 28mm neodymium microdrivers, would
you expect nothing less?) and cutting midrange, put a smile
on my face. Such a frequency response made for a truly dynamic listening
experience. However, its falter came when I switched my iPod to Nelly.
Playing "Hot in Here" at medium-loud volumes caused the speakers
to distort as they struggled to produce the lower frequencies.
Regarding loudness, the iM3 are plenty loud for what it is intended
for, which is use in a personal environment. That said, the iM3 is most
likely even loud enough to fill a larger room, such as a kitchen or
living room, with sound. Because of the nature of the speakers, the
sound is very line-of-sight and requires the user to be in a specific
listing position for best audio fidelity. Within the manual, Altec Lansing
suggests that the unit be placed on a level surface, within three feet
of listening position. It’s pretty incredible how limited the sound
field is with the iM3 – once you step out of the three foot listening
distance or move your ears out of line with the speakers, the high frequencies
immediately become a bit muffled, as if someone had turned down the
treble, although loudness is not affected.
The included manual does an adequate job
at explaining the setup and function of the iM3.
BUGS AND WISHES
I read the site description of the iM3, I got pretty excited at the
phrase "the revolutionary MaxxBass™ technology allows listeners
to enjoy deep bass without lugging around a subwoofer." When I,
the "average consumer", powered on the iM3 speakers, I expected
to hear some thumping bass that would make the books on my shelf do
a dance. Indeed I was let down when I found there to be no deep bass,
but rather dynamic bass that made for a good listening experience.
My wish for this situation is for Altec to avoid misleading prospective
buyers by promising "deep bass" … because when I think deep
bass, I think "Whoa, the dog is skipping across the carpet."
issue was the over-abundance of volume. The iM3 moves past the speaker’s
maximum by about 2 or 3 volume adjustments. There is a fine line between
*as loud as they can play* and *louder, but with distortion*. I’d like
to be able to have some sort of visual of how loud my music is getting
so that I know where the ceiling lies. Perhaps a simple display on the
iM3 to reveal the volume level could remedy such sessions of potential
Although not a bug, it was interesting
to watch the green LED turn amber (indicative of low battery power)
when I turned the volume up high. The power draw was large enough to
cause the unit to think that the batteries were running low, but they
were just being used to contort the speaker drivers.
Altec Lansing inMotion iM3 speakers can be purchased
from Altec Lansing
for a reasonable $179.95.
Outstanding dynamic range
- Crystal clear sound
Acts as a regular iPod cradle
Travel accessories included
- IR remote controls iPod
Where’s the volume indicator?
- Volume goes about two values
The "MaxxBass=Deep Bass" statement is misleading
Line-of-site listening position
required for clearest sound
- Line-of-site necessary for
remote to function
As of lately, little things have been known
to impress. I still wonder how Altec Lansing was able to put four quarter-sized
speakers to work in such a way to produce a full range of frequencies
that accurately reproduced a a variety of my iPod tracks. With a few
picky items aside, and a faltered presupposition about the amount of
bass I ought to expect, Altec Lansing has created a very worthy successor
to the original inMotion in a package that should appeal to a large
base of iPod-addicts.