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As the heir to Altec Lansing's venerable iM600 portable iPod speaker system, the iMT702 ($199) has some big shoes to fill. We're not thrilled with all of the changes Altec Lansing has made, but the net result is a great-sounding portable system with a compact design and balanced, detailed sound.
The inMotion Max is a truly portable speaker system, with a built-in rechargeable battery and a collapsible design that measures just 2 inches thick, 12 inches wide, and 7.5 inches tall. Granted, the inMotion Max is a monster compared with something like the Logitech Pure-Fi Mobile, but it strikes a slimmer posture than the sonically comparable Bose SoundDock Portable.
For better or worse, the inMotion Max matches the industrial aesthetic recently applied to the entire Altec Lansing consumer product lineup. The right and left sides of the speaker system mimic the look of metal bars with exposed bolts and most of the front is covered in a perforated black metal speaker grille. Also on the face of the inMotion Max is a spring-loaded universal iPod dock (six adapters are included) that retracts from the bottom and a glossy black plastic strip that runs across the top with a 1.75-inch backlit LCD at its center. Four 2-inch speaker cones are also located on the front of the system, although only two of the speakers are powered, while the other two help to passively radiate sound.
The top edge of the inMotion Max features a unique strip of illuminated buttons that work off capacitive touch sensitivity instead of mechanical clicks. Buttons for power, audio source, volume, skip, and ESS sound enhancement (Expanded Sound Stage) are included and their orange backlighting makes them easy to see in the dark. As each button is pushed, the LCD readout on the front of the inMotion Max offers visual feedback, which is reassuring in the absence of buttons that click when pressed.
The back of the inMotion Max includes a compartment for the included remote control, as well as a flap that works as a fold-out stand. An aux input, power adapter socket, and FM antenna connector are also included on the back of the system, concealed behind the fold-out stand when not in use. We're disappointed that Altec Lansing didn't include the same built-in, telescoping antenna that made the iM600 so travel-friendly, but the detachable loose wire antenna supposedly offers better reception.
The battery-powered portability of the inMotion Max is a distinguishing feature, but most people tend to plant their speaker systems semipermanently around the home. Fortunately, the 6-foot long power adapter included with the inMotion Max should have no problem reaching an available power outlet.
The headline features of the inMotion Max are its sound quality, iPhone compatibility, built-in FM radio, and rechargeable battery. The inMotion Max can't compete with the smaller size and lower price of the iPod or iPhone speaker systems made by Logitech or Griffin, however, its sound quality and features should sway those of you looking at the larger, more expensive Bose SoundDock Portable.