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Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810 review: Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810

Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
5 min read

Back in 2009, we reviewed the $300 Altec Lansing Mix iMT800, a modern iPod/iPhone speaker dock with the look and feel of an old-school, crank-it-till-your-ears-bleed boom box. Now Altec's updated that portable speaker system with some small tweaks--the new model is known as the Mix BoomBox iMT810. Since the two systems are so similar, a lot of this review will sound the same as the review for the older model. But let's start with the differences. Here's what the new iMT810 has versus the previous system.


Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810

The Good

The <b>Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810</b> has a distinct, retrolicious design, excellent sound for a system its size, built-in FM radio, two auxiliary inputs placed on the top of the unit for easy access, a portable power option (eight D batteries), and a slot for storing the included remote, which also clips onto a belt.

The Bad

The system is somewhat pricey, has no AM radio or video outputs, and no included rechargeable battery option.

The Bottom Line

The Altec Lansing BoomBox iMT810's winning combination of good performance, lots of oomph, and portability makes it one of the best boom-box-style bass-heavy speaker options you can buy.
  • • Certified for use with iPhone 4
  • • Blue backlit LCD screen for device status and track info
  • • Metallic accents are brushed aluminum instead of gold

Except for that blue backlight and brushed-aluminum accents, the two models look identical. While this can certainly be used as a stay-at-home stereo, Altec isn't shy about mentioning that it also makes for a good party system indoors or outside. On top, you'll find a handle, and you can also pick the unit up using the "grab" handles on the front of the speakers.

Like the earlier model (and nearly all Apple-centric speaker docks these days), the Mix BoomBox iMT810 is GSM shielded, so you won't need to switch your iPhone to airplane mode.

While the Mix doesn't have a second iPod dock, it does offer two 3.5-millimeter line inputs that allow your friends to plug in their music players or smartphones and cue up their playlists. The inputs are conveniently placed at the top of the unit, and there's a depression under the handle that's reserved for parking additional devices. Additionally, the Mix has a telescoping antenna on top of the unit. While there's no AM radio on board, it does do FM, with four presets available. (Of course, with an iPod, iPhone, or smartphone connected, you can listen to any audio streaming app as well.)

Twin auxiliary inputs handle any non-Apple audio source, and the clip-on remote slides into a slot when not in use.

The system comes with a small remote that clips onto a belt loop or stores in a hideaway slot in the body of the Mix itself. While the clip looks like a bottle opener, it's not really intended to be one (the clip itself is made of plastic, not metal, so it's probably not a good idea to regularly open bottles with it). Like most remotes included with these types of iPod speakers, it controls only the basic playback functions of your iPod or iPhone. It's also worth noting that there's no provision for video output, so you won't be able to use the Mix to watch iPod videos on an external TV.

A couple other design notes: If you look at the picture of the unit, you'll notice that the protective silver "guard" 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. Don't fear: it actually slides up and down, making the dock easily accessible. In theory, it also may help save your iPod or iPhone from serious damage in the event that some drunk, stumbling idiot knocks into the Mix during a party.

As noted, this is also a portable system and it runs on AC or battery power. According to Altec, it can last up to 30 hours on eight D-cell batteries, which will cost you over $20. We'd recommend that frequent battery users invest in rechargeables. To that end, it would've been nice if Altec included a built-in rechargeable battery pack, or the ability to juice up third-party rechargeables just by plugging the Mix into the wall (a feature we loved on the Tivoli SongBook).

That octet of D batteries will add some weight to the unit, which comes in at 10.1 pounds (without batteries) and measures 7.7 inches high by 19.7 inches wide by 9.3 inches deep. Needless to say, this is one of the bigger portable iPod speakers out there, and you probably won't want to lug it too far. But carrying it out to the patio or pool shouldn't tax you.

Thanks in large part to its side-firing 5.25-inch subwoofers (one's active, one's a passive radiator), the Mix is designed to play loud and fill a good-size room with sound. The unit also contains two 3-inch midrange drivers and two 1-inch horn-loaded tweeters, and you can adjust the bass and treble settings using the EQ settings button on the remote or on the unit itself.

Overall, we were pretty impressed with what we heard. There's good detail, and the system is well balanced (read: smooth), with no big holes in the high, low, or midrange. And what's immediately clear is that this thing has some serious kick to it. The Mix may not be able to take the place of a true component-based system, but it does sound bigger than it looks, and the bass really thumps. Indeed, this makes for a great party box.

For our testing, we listened to the same wide range of music that we did with the older iMT800--everything from Elvis Costello and Dan Auerbach to more popular club hits from Lady Gaga and Rihanna. Like its predecessor, the new Mix acquitted itself well with all of it and arguably delivered slightly more refined sound than the Monster Beatbox, which can now be had for $350 and also received strong marks from CNET (the Beatbox has a more minimalist, sleeker design).

In the end, while its retro styling may not appeal to everyone, the Altec Lansing Mix iMT810 is a well-designed and versatile iPod speaker that you should strongly consider if you're looking for a system that sounds good, has some oomph to it, and is portable (or at least luggable). We have no reservations recommending it.

At the time of this writing, Amazon has the older iMT800 on sale for just over $200, but no discounts yet on the new model. If you don't need the iPhone 4 certification, we recommend saving the dough on the older model, which sounds identical to this one. However, once the remaining inventory of iMT800s sell out, the new iMT810 should come down in price.

Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.


Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8