Altec Lansing iMT630 Classic provides good sound in a compact package
At a Glance
The Altec Lansing name has become synonymous with quality speaker docks for the iPhone and iPod, generally combining stylized, angle-heavy design with superior (for the price) sound. The iMT630 Classic is no exception.
The portable, black-with-silver-trim iMT630 weighs in about 1.5 pounds and measures 12.5 inches wide, 1.5 inches deep, and 5.1 inches tall. (The Sport Red and Sport Blue versions offer red or blue accents, respectively, but are otherwise identical.) When you’re not using the iMT630, the trapezoidal unit is impressively slim and sleek. When you’re ready to start listening, you fold out the rear kickstand, and push in on the front of the dock cradle to slide the cradle out.
On the top of the unit sits an LED status light that blinks while charging, shines solidly when fully charged, and changes color as battery life drains. Next to that light are On/Off, Volume Down, Volume Up, and Source buttons. This last button toggles between the iPhone/iPod dock and whatever source is connected to the 1/8-inch (3.5mm) line-in jack hidden on the rear of the unit. (It's exposed only when you fold out the kickstand.) The unit's AC jack resides next to the line-in jack and is similarly hidden.
When the iMT630 is connected to AC power, it remains powered up whenever an iPod or iPhone is connected. This means that if you use your iPhone’s alarm-clock features, the alarm will sound through the speakers in the morning. The unit also includes a built-in rechargeable battery for portable use. Altec Lansing says you should get about seven hours of listening time on a full charge; that seems like a reasonable estimate based on my testing. You’ll need about four hours to fully charge the iMT630's battery.
Included with the unit is a very tiny remote, but it fits perfectly in the space covered by the closed kickstand, clinging there magnetically, so you’re far less likely to lose the remote than you might otherwise be given its size. The remote features the same controls offered on the body of the iMT630, and it adds buttons for Mute, Play/Pause, Previous, Next, and four EQ presets (Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, and the flat Altec EQ default), as well as a four-way (up, down, left, right/select) iPhone/iPod menu-navigation control.
The controls all work fine, though the remote’s symmetrical, grid-like layout requires that you look at it to use it—there's no hope of using it by touch. And though Altec Lansing loves to include iPhone/iPod menu-navigation controls on its remotes, the truth is that if you’re close enough to your device’s screen to see what you’re doing, you can probably just control the device directly.
The iMT630 works with all models of iPod touch and iPhone, along with all dock-connector iPod models released in the past few years. That obviously excludes the iPad—an iPad 2 fits the iMT630's dock cradle fairly securely and works just fine, but it partially blocks the speakers themselves, thanks the the iMT630's compact size.
You can crank up the iMT630 plenty loud without distortion, with one exception: On bass-heavy tracks, the iMT630 suffers a bit at loud volumes as its 2-inch neodymium speakers are a bit overmatched. But if you keep the volume at a normal level, or avoid bass-laden techno tracks, the system offers impressive, rich sound.
Macworld’s buying advice
If you prize portability, the iMT630 Classic is a solid option. It's roughly comparable to Logitech's Rechargeable S715i ( )—I prefer the iMT630’s style and controls, but the S715i offers better bass and overall audio performance. If you like the Logitech speaker’s look, or prize audio quality above all else, that’s the better option. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit on bass performance at the loudest volumes, the Altec Lansing unit is a bit sleeker.