Altec Lansing iM5
- Portable and Compact, Loud Volume Levels, Inputs Include Sub Out and Composite, Syncs and Charges iPod when docked
- Lacks a little bass and low end, Can’t control volume on the iPod itself, Volume buttons require a firm press, No Remote Control included, Power doesn’t switch off iPod
The iM5 is a decent unit and its extra outputs are a nice touch. But the lack of an included remote and better sounding units for similar or lower prices means it wouldn’t hurt looking elsewhere.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The Altec Lansing iM5 is a commendable portable sound system that packs quite a punch for its size, but is missing a couple of important features to be considered an outstanding option.
The first thing you'll notice when you unpack the iM5 is its size - it is extremely compact and light. Measuring only 213mm x 96mm x 54mm and weighing just 570g, the iM5 is a truly portable sound system. Despite its small stature, the build quality is commendable, with sturdy white plastic trimmed with grey rubber and metal ends, as well as a metal grill covering almost the entire front of the unit. It feels solid and looks the part as well.
Altec Lansing has cleverly hidden the iPod dock on the iM5 and it pops out when you press the large button on the front of the unit. This convenient fold out dock is very useful for those who travel frequently, as the unit can be stored away with a minimum of fuss. The dock fits any iPod that contains a dock adapter (iPod, iPod Photo, iPod Video, iPod mini and iPod nano). The sales package includes an adapter for the iPod mini, but our review unit did not extend the same service to the iPod nano. As with most models in this range, the rear of the iM5 houses a dock connecter which enables you to charge and sync your iPod while it is connected to the unit. Hooking this up is simply a matter of connecting one end of the iPod's USB cable to the back of the iM5, the other end to your PC and docking the iPod in the unit.
The top of the iM5 houses the Power and Volume Up/Down buttons, surrounded by a long grey rubber strip. The volume buttons are rubber themselves, which means they require a fairly stern press to activate. The Power button is surrounded by a blue ring that glows when the unit is switched on. To save battery life and/or power, the iM5 switches to standby mode if it doesn't detect music playing after three minutes. As well as the provided AC power charger (with five adapters for international plugs) the iM5 can run off four standard AA alkaline batteries, which are located at the rear of the unit. Unfortunately, when you turn the unit off your iPod does not switch off with it - it just continues playing music. If you don't realize, your iPod will quickly be drained without you even knowing. Similar units, such as Logitech's mm50 turn off the iPod when the system is turned off, so we don't understand why Altec Lansing have decided not to include this on the iM5. As well as this, every time you turn the iM5 off and on, the volume it reset to its default level, which happens to be extremely loud. Most other systems remember your last volume setting and adjust it accordingly the next time you switch the unit on, but the iM5 lacks this convenient function.
At the rear of the iM5, behind a rubber cover are the units input and outputs. There's an AC Adapter jack, ann Auxiliary stereo minijack, a composite video output and a subwoofer output. The last two are unique - the first enables you to connect a newer iPod to your television to view photos and pictures, the second allows you to connect a subwoofer to the unit for some extra bass. Both are a nice touch.
The iM5 is a decent sounding unit considering its size, but we prefer the mm50 in this regard. Bass is a little lacking, as is low end, but the volume levels are admirable and are enough to fill a large room full of blaring music. There was also no evident distortion at the highest volume setting, which signaled quality. Overall, the iM5 is an admirable sounding unit, but there are similar units that outdo it in this regard.
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