Unlike the vast assortment of speakers available for Apple's iPod and iPhone, the speaker options for Microsoft's fledgling Zune portable media player are few and far between. Fortunately, most accessories made for the Zune are fairly high quality, such as the, and a sonically beefy speaker dock called the . For an equally remarkable Zune speaker that also manages to be small and portable, the Altec Lansing iM414 ($99) is the top dog.
Measuring 5.5 inches tall by 5 inches deep by 10.5 inches wide, the iM414 is small enough to fit into a backpack and light enough to tote around the house at just 3 pounds. If you're thinking that the speaker's small footprint and understated matte black and gray design would look right at home on a nightstand, you may be disappointed to know that the iM414 doesn't function as an alarm clock. In fact, the handy little 2.5-inch backlit LCD on the front of the dock can't even tell you the time, but is instead used to indicate volume, FM radio station frequency, and audio options such as bass boost and surround effect. On the upside, at least you don't have to worry about setting a clock every time you drain the speaker's battery down to zero.
A charging dock for the Zune is positioned behind the LCD, and the package includes swappable inserts to accommodate all Zune models, including the Zune HD. Large, well-marked buttons to the left and right of the dock offer straightforward control over power, volume, audio source, and track-station skip. These same controls are duplicated on the included remote control, along with additional controls for station presets, and audio enhancement (bass boost, expander).