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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Altec Lansing inMotion im500 review:

Altec Lansing inMotion im500

The iM500 is actually a little unstable without an iPod docked; if you use it as your bedside speaker set, for example, and the Nano's not docked, chances are the iM500 will be knocked over if you gently brush up against it. It also comes in black only (by far the better color for speakers), so your white Nano will certainly stand out. Needless to say, the dock also charges the iPod and (very) conveniently, you can connect to a computer via the standard USB port. Forget your proprietary dock cable? No worries, if you have the iM500 and a friend with a USB cable.

Altec Lansing iM500
A white iPod Nano docked with the black iM500.

We appreciate the line-in port, which allows you to connect any other audio device (including your laptop), though we don't love the 2.5mm micro jack input, which is much less common than the standard 3.5mm mini jack. Altec Lansing includes an 11-inch micro-to-mini cable--remember to bring this along on trips. Making the iM500 truly portable are the two battery compartments on the back, which hold three AAA batteries each. The system is rated to last about 10 hours per change of batteries--not bad.

Altec Lansing iM500
When opened, the iM500's backside features standard mini USB, power, and auxiliary ports. Also notice the two battery compartments.

The iM500's pretty and waify looks wouldn't count for much if the system didn't sound good, and it does. You get quite a bit of oomph for the size of the speakers. Though they are definitely personal-size speakers, the iM500 can pump. They really shine when it comes to clarity and balance. The two full-range drivers pump out surprisingly good bass, too. Wynton Marsalis's trumpet soared divinely in "Bourbon Street Parade," while Dexter's electronic "Mr. Blunt" blared throughout CNET's cubicle district without breaking up (though some electronic music sounds a little tinny). Acoustic- and vocal-centric music such as Regina Spektor worked well with the iM500. Sound is certainly comparable to Logitech 's bigger $150 (list) mm50, so the $130 price tag shouldn't be too off-putting.

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