Editors' Note: The rating on this review has been lowered from 7.7 to 7.0 due to changes in the competitive marketplace.
We've gotten our hands on a wide array of portable speaker systems designed for the iPod, but we haven't reviewed one that was quite as thin as Altec Lansing's $130 inMotion iM500. The splendid-sounding iM500 measures only 0.67 inches thick when closed up for transport, so you can pretty much stick it (or slide it) in any bag, backpack, or carrier. With a pleasing design that matches the black iPod Nano, these speakers look as good as they sound, though the speaker set could be better with a remote control.
The iM500 speaker system measures about 8.5 by 5 inches (when closed), weighs 12 ounces (without batteries), and looks and feels, as Altec Lansing markets it, "impossibly thin." An elegantly minimal design that closes up flat and snag-free doesn't hurt. Pressing a button in the center of the grille opens the base (which measures about 2.5 inches from front to back), which includes the iPod dock connector port and power and volume buttons on the front. When the posterior base opens, it reveals standard mini USB, mini auxiliary, and AC power ports.
Dock your iPod Nano, and you have a very attractive system; the thinness of the Nano and the iM500 play off of one another. When docked, the speakers are very stable. The iPod Nano actually sits in an indentation on the iM500 making the whole system even sleeker. The tiny puffy-style volume buttons are easy enough to use, though we definitely were itching for a remote control (no dice). The iM500 comes with a basic leatherette slip-on case; the wall wart-style AC adapter shouldn't take too much additional space.
Though the system is designed for the iPod Nano, we were able to force a regular 5G iPod onto the dock; while you can get away with this, we don't recommend it, as it could damage the dock connector.