By Mike Riley on Sun, 12/05/2010
There are plenty of cases and speaker accessories for iPods and iPhones, but rarely do you find these two accessory categories combined into the same product. That is what Portable Sound Laboratories' iMainGo X attempts to accomplish. Read on to find out how well this category mash-up succeeds.
The iMainGo X appears to be designed mostly for iPod Touch owners who spend most of their time listening to audio, but would prefer to do so on the go with a compact, conveniently portable, high quality set of stereo speakers. For that specific market demographic, the iMainGo X will be as close to a perfect match one could hope to find. The iMainGo X essentially turns your iPod Touch into something about the size of two original Sony Walkmans stacked on top of eachother.
Due to the case containing the speakers, amplifier, headphone, mic-in and auxiliary jacks, power button, and housing with foam padding to accommodate iPods and iPhones of various sizes, this is not the kind of case you will be able to put into your pocket, regardless of how large your pants may be. Indeed, the physical dimensions of the iMainGo X is the size of a small purse. The case is made of a durable molded plastic lined with black water-resistant neoprene, giving it a more expensive-looking appearance. One side of the case houses the amplifier, speaker and battery while the other contains a plastic plate and two three strips of foam to accommodate the various thicknesses of iPods, iPhones and other media players that are roughly the same size (such as a second generation Microsoft Zune). Once the iPhone is tightly enclosed in this half of the case, a clear plastic shield allows you to easily see your screen and interact accordingly.
While the case may be bulky, the sound is surprisingly good considering the small size of the stereo speakers. Even at high volumes, the clarity, treble and bass deliver a very satisfying auditory experience. And the solid construction does a great job of protecting your delicate electronic assets encased within; I wouldn't hesitate bringing the iMainGo X to listen to at a sandy beach party or a crowded camping trip.
The iMainGo X comes with a number of accessories, including the power supply required to recharge the 12-hour Lithium-ion battery, a carrying case, a carrying strap and a wrist strap. The additional headphone jack comes in handy when you and a partner want to listen to music without disturbing everyone else around you. And since removing and resealing an iPhone can be a hassle, the microphone jack can be used to connect an external microphone for calls and recordings. Not the most elegant approach, but functional enough to address this need. Still, for those who use their iPhones more for speaking than for listening, the iMainGo X isn't optimally designed for that type of scenario. Think of it more as a boom-box enclosure for your iOS device rather than a typical iPhone case.
I had a few minor issues with the iMainGo X. First, although the product can be used with other playback devices that have a standard headphone jack, the length of the iMainGo X's headphone cable is only a few inches long. Obviously this length is best-suited for devices to fit inside the case so that there wasn't extra wire hanging around to entangle the encased device, but as an example, this left little room to maneuver the iMainGo X as an external speaker for my iPad or netback. I also would have preferred a volume control knob built into the case; while I could change the volume on my iPod Touch onscreen, the protective plastic cover made sliding my finger to adjust the iPod's volume less precise. Another very minor issue I had was listening to the iMainGo X in the dark while falling asleep. The green power LED is such a bright beacon in the dark that I had to cover it up with black electrical tape to keep it from shining into my eyes. While I could have flipped the case over to point the LED toward the table surface, this would have also muffled the speakers. I know I'm probably a minority on this point, but for those like me who prefer a pitch black room when falling asleep to relaxing audio, the bright illumination from the iMainGo's power indicator may be an annoyance that can be easily corrected.
Final verdict - if you're looking for a reasonably priced, rechargeable battery-powered stereo speaker system for your iPod or iPhone that just happens to be a case, you may find the combined features of the iMainGo X a worthy addition to your collection of mobile accessories.
Product: iMainGo X
Company: Portable Sound Laboratories
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars