Altec Lansing iM600

Altec Lansing's latest iPod dock offers plenty of punch for its size.

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Altec Lansing iM600
  • Altec Lansing iM600
  • Altec Lansing iM600
  • Altec Lansing iM600

Pros

  • Sleek design, portability, rechargeable battery, sound quality

Cons

  • No case or pouch, no bass/treble controls, no line-in cable included

Bottom Line

Altec Lansing's iM600 packs quite a punch for its size, producing very reasonable sound quality.

Would you buy this?

Altec Lansing's iM600 portable iPod dock offers surprisingly good sound quality for its size. Although it won't blow you away in terms of features, it is definitely good value for money.

The Altec Lansing iM600 is a similar shape and size to many competing units. It has a gloss black colour scheme that matches its black speaker grille, while the dock connector folds away neatly when not in use, making this a great travel system. Further enhancing its appeal as a travel unit is the built-in lithium-ion battery, which Altec Lansing claims can provide up to seven hours of continuous music playback on a full charge. The rear of the unit has a handy storage compartment to house the included remote control. Unfortunately, the Altec Lansing iM600 doesn’t include a case or pouch.

The Altec Lansing iM600 is compatible with all Apple iPods that utilise the standard dock connection, so it will work with every iPod except the iPod shuffle (Updated 2nd Generation). The iPhone 3G isn’t included in the list of compatible models on the sales packaging, but we tested one and didn't encounter any problems. If you don’t own an iPod the Altec Lansing iM600 might still appeal to you: an auxiliary input at the rear of the unit means any device that utilises a standard 3.5mm headphone jack can be connected. Unfortunately, there’s no line-in cable included in the box.

Set up is as simple as connecting the AC adapter then docking your iPod. A power button and volume controls sit next to the dock connector, while dedicated buttons for source (iPod, FM radio and auxiliary) and SFX (Altec's Expanded Sound Stage function) sit on top of the unit, alongside forward and back keys for the built-in FM radio. A small blue backlit display shows source information, while two indicator symbols denote power and SFX functions; somewhat strangely these are bright green rather than matching the colour of the display's backlight.

The sound is surprisingly punchy for a unit this size. The iM600 iPod dock obviously won't impress audiophiles, but for most other users it should provide acceptable quality sound that will fill a small room. Altec Lansing claims that the unit offers better sound than competing models due to the dual 2in neodymium drivers that provide better treble, and we tend to agree. Using the SFX setting makes the speakers sound further apart than they are. It works reasonably well, but at higher volume levels we preferred it switched off — it can result in some distortion. The lack of basic bass and treble controls is a slight annoyance; you'll need to rely on your iPod or iPhone equaliser to tweak your sound.

The included remote control is handy, but the buttons are stiff and require a firm press to operate. We found the range left a little be desired, with the remote often only working up to 3m away, despite having a clear line of sight. Strangely, the only way to store an access FM radio presets is through the remote — there are no buttons on the iM600 itself to do this. The FM radio quality is quite good, and a handy slide-out aerial sits at the rear of the device. The iM600 is also compatible with the iPod's alarm clock feature — simply set the alarm, dock your iPod and then select the volume and the iM600 will play the iPod alarm through its speakers. To use this, though, you need the AC adapter plugged in; it won't work while running on the built-in battery.

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