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Hands-on with Altec Lansing's inMotion Classic

CNET's Donald Bell offers some photos and hands-on impressions of the Altec Lansing inMotion Classic im620 speaker system for iPod and iPhone.

Photo of the Altec Lansing inMotion Classic iPod speaker.
The Altec Lansing inMotion Classic is an angular, powerful boombox made for the iPod and iPhone. Donald Bell/CNET

Altec Lansing has a long history of producing some stellar little speaker systems designed around the iPod. Their latest portable speaker, the inMotion Classic, continues the company's tradition of delivering quality audio in a compact and stylish design.

I've reviewed a number of Altec Lansing's iPod speakers, including last year's inMotion Max and im600, so I thought I had a pretty good idea what to expect from a seemingly basic, $149 speaker dock. I was wrong.

So far, my initial impressions of the inMotion Classic are excellent. For a budget-minded portable speaker that stands only 4 inches high and measures just 2 inches thick, this thing cranks. Sure, it's not as thin as the im600, or as impressive-looking as the inMotion Max, but the engineers have juiced the two 3-inch speakers on the Classic for all they're worth.

There are no EQ settings on the Classic, but the overall sound is crisp with a surprising amount of meat on the low end compared with other fold-flat speakers we've tested from Logitech and Griffin. An "expanded sound stage" setting is included to give recordings a little extra stereo oomph, but that's about the only audio trick involved here.

The volume increments go from 1-40, with full-blast being loud enough to shout over, provided the speaker is drawing its power from the wall. Off its own internal rechargeable battery (good for five hours), the Classic plays a little softer, but it still cranks loud enough to drown out a cell phone, wake you out of bed, or otherwise get you dancing like an idiot in your kitchen.

Other niceties offered on the inMotion Classic are an aux input, an iPhone-certified dock (speakers are shielded against cell interference, as well), and an FM radio that had no problem picking up local stations, thanks to a 2-foot retractable antenna. You also get candy bar-size remote control that includes controls for playback, volume, station presets, and even some buttons for navigating iPod menus.

I'll try to work up a full review soon, once all the iPod hoopla dies down. The inMotion Classic won't be hitting store shelves until later this month, anyhow. Until then, take a look though our hands-on photo gallery.