Back in the 1980s, when portable audio was synonymous with "cassette tapes," boom boxes were a mainstay of music culture. While luggable, battery-powered speaker systems still exist today, they tend to be somewhat dainty iPod speakers. Altec Lansing's new Mix iMT800, meanwhile, aims to mix and match the best of the old and new. It has the look and feel of an old-school, crank-it-til-your-ears-bleed boom box--albeit a rather stylish one--but it boasts an iPod/iPhone dock (and it's GSM-shielded to boot, so you don't need to flip the iPhone into airplane mode). The Mix also includes two 3.5-millimeter line inputs, and it has a small remote that clips onto a belt loop or stores in a hideaway slot in the body of the Mix itself.
We'll have a full review of the Mix iMT800 next week, but we've already spent some time listening to it. We can tell you the thing gets good and loud, thanks in large part to its side-firing 5.25-inch subwoofers (one's active, one's a passive radiator). The other feature that hearkens back to its boom box roots: the Mix can run on AC or battery power. According to Altec, it can last up to 30 hours on eight D-cell batteries (alas, there is no rechargeable option).
A couple of notes on the photo above: while it may appear that the black iPod Classic is plugged into a second dock, it's really just resting on top (note the patch cable running from the headphone jack to one of the Mix's two line input jacks). Also, the protective silver bar over the top of the iPhone (docked in the bottom center) looks like it would make it tough to get iPhones/iPods in and out, but it actually slides up and down, making the dock easily accessible.
The Mix iMT800 is available now for $300. That's pricey, to be sure, but it does have a lot more heft and sonic oomph than the