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Anyone who has ever shopped for an iPod speaker knows that there is no shortage of models from which to choose; options range from extra-deluxe party speakers to the gadgets smaller than a pack of gum. Heck, you can even get a case with a speaker built right in: the iMainGo 2. This follow-up to Portable Sound Laboratories' popular iMainGo offers the same compact, innovative design and affordable price tag ($39.99), but includes upgraded titanium speakers as well as fit tweaks that allow it to be used with a greater number of MP3 players.
Perhaps the iMainGo 2's most attractive feature is its design. If nothing else, it's convenient since it serves to protect your MP3 player while letting you play music through a set of speakers built into one half of the case. The case itself comes in a variety of colors--black, blue, green, pink, and silver--but its shell is fabric, which means the unit is not weatherproof. The iMainGo 2 is clamshell style with a zipper that joins each half into one compact package. The half that holds your player has an adjustable Velcro belt and a removable plastic backing, both of which serve to keep the MP3 player secure and flush with the front of the case, which has a clear plastic window through which you control your device. The iMainGo 2 is compatible with 90 percent of MP3 players (including the iPhone and iPod Touch), as playback is achieved through a 3.5mm plug. The only limiting factor is the size of the device--we were able to squeeze a first-gen Zune in there, but only just barely, and it didn't rest precisely flush with the front window (we could still control it, though).
The other half of the iMainGo 2 contains the speaker unit. It's actually quite the brick and it's not exactly lightweight: The entire unit measures 5.7 by 3.8 by 2.4 inches and weighs about 9 ounces, with most of that weight coming from the speaker. Still, the speaker case is plenty portable, just not pocketsize. The backside of the speaker is lined with felt to avoid scratching your player--a nice detail. Here, you'll find the battery compartment, which takes four AAA batteries (included). Inserting the batteries isn't the simplest task and getting the door to stay closed took a couple tries, but at least you shouldn't have to replace them that often; the iMainGo 2 is rated for 30 hours of battery life. Kitty-corner from this compartment is a power switch for turning the unit on or off or placing it in alarm mode. This mode keeps the speakers on standby (reserving battery) until it senses audio coming from the player--pretty cool.
Two titanium drivers arranged in a diagonal with two bass ports in between reside on the outer shell of the iMainGo 2 and provide the sound. Although they're not the best portable speakers we've heard, we're pretty impressed by the audio quality given the unit's price and size. Music sounds clear and warm and there's even some bass. On the downside, not all high-end detail is audible and there's some distortion at high volumes. But sound is very good all things considered, and the iMainGo 2 should be a top choice for anyone looking for an ultraportable speaker.