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.
- • 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.)
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).