Speaker add-ons for the Apple iPod are not in short supply, but we've seen relatively few that cater to our '80s nostalgia by integrating the player into a revamped-yet-old-school boombox design. Altec Lansing did a rather successful job of it in the IM7, so we're not surprised to see Memorex follow suit with the iMove Boombox ($100). Though we're not as keen on the iMove's wedgelike design and subpar sound quality, it's a passable unit for picnics, trips to the beach, and rides on your shoulder.
Like the iM7, the iMove takes a departure from the classic rectangular design, opting for a triangle that tapers at the top to provide the traditional boombox handle. Dual speakers flank a rectangular chrome indent from which an iPod dock connector protrudes. It's not as streamlined or as innovative as the iM7's tape deck-like dock, but it does the trick, and several iPod adapters are provided to ensure a secure fit. On either side of this area are the volume and tuning rocker buttons, and below that are the power, mode, set, and preset keys along with a small, monochrome LCD screen. The latter is rudimentary: it displays the word "iPod" in iPod mode and station numbers in radio mode. The back of the iMove houses ports for line-out, auxiliary line-in (for Shuffles and non-iPod MP3 players), and AC power, and there's a compartment for eight D batteries.
The iMove isn't ultraportable--it measures 15.7 by 6 by 7.9 inches and weighs 7.3 pounds with the batteries installed--but it's more totable than Apple's iPod Hi-Fi, and it's appropriately sized for short-distance travel by car: camping trips, picnics, the beach, and so on. However, the overall feel of the unit is a bit cheap and plasticky--we've already noticed some superficial scratching, and all it's done is come out of the box and sit on a desk. Still, it's more than 100 bucks cheaper than the iM7, so we can forgive the cheaper construction.
Featurewise, the iMove does OK. It charges the iPod while plugged into wall power. It also includes an AM/FM tuner with five presets for each band, and setting these took some experimentation. (The manual--online only--was unclear on this. See our Tips section for more straightforward instructions.) An adjustable FM antenna on top of the unit helps ensure good reception. Memorex also includes a remote with buttons for controlling volume, switching modes, shuttling through tracks and radio stations, navigating presets, and playing and pausing tracks (or turning the unit on and off). There's also a handy clip built into the back so that you can clip it to your pocket. Remote response, however, was spotty in testing.
Audio purists will not appreciate the iMove's sound quality. While it offers a decent low end and mostly clear sound at midlevel volume, the high end nearly always suffers from distortion. At high volumes, the vibration of the unit causes intolerable distortion. There's also a noticeable background hiss/interference that is quite noticeable in minimalist songs. You can find better sound quality in comparably priced ultraportable speakers, though you won't get the AM and FM tuners.