The first cardinal rule of party etiquette -- partiquette if you will -- states that a truly rockin' shindig needs truly rockin' music. If you've ever found yourself arguing with fellow party-goers over whose playlist is best, however, you'll know that the choice of tunes can cause friction among guests. That may lead to a violation of the second cardinal rule of parties -- no sulking -- so you'll need to find a musical solution that keeps everyone happy.
That's exactly what the Altec Lansing Mix aims to do. It's a boom box with three separate inputs (for three people's music players), which you can switch between to keep the music fresh. At around £200, it's going to take a big bite out of your beer budget, though. Does it rock hard enough to justify the sacrifice?
The Mix features one input for iPhones and iPods, which plug into a housing at the centre of the Mix. Plugging your Apple gadget in will charge it. The Mix comes with a host of adaptors to fit the many iProducts out there, although we noticed that the most recent (fifth-generation) won't fit any of the adaptors provided.
On top of the Mix, you'll find two 3.5mm sockets. The Mix comes with two 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cables, so you can pretty much plug any device with its own 3.5mm socket into these ports, letting you play music from MP3 players, CD players and laptops. You won't be able to charge devices plugged in via these sockets, though. There's also a built-in FM radio, leaving you with a grand total of four audio channels to flit between.
Unfortunately, there are a few crippling oversights that prevent the Mix from becoming the life of the party. Firstly, there's only one button for switching sound channels, which means you'll have to cycle through all four channels one by one if you want to change the source of the music. Seeing as one of those channels is radio, you'll probably find your party tunes interrupted by unwelcome blasts of static, or yawnsome talk radio, every time you want to switch up the music.
Even if you have nothing plugged into a particular audio channel, you'll still have to cycle past it to get to the channel you're after, so you're likely to get a few seconds of party-halting silence at the very least. Four separate buttons to let you move between sound channels quickly would have been much better.
The iPhone and most iPods halt playback when they're disconnected either at the underside port or the 3.5mm socket. This means that an iPhone or iPod used in the Mix's central dock will automatically pause itself if you start listening to one of the other three audio channels. When you go back to that first channel, however, playback doesn't automatically resume -- you'll have to press play every time you go back to the iPod channel to start the music going again. That's frustrating, and not conducive to casually cycling through playlists on a whim.
As well as a button for playing and pausing music, there are skip-track buttons. But these only work on the device plugged into the central dock.