Altec Lansing inMotion iM510 Travel Speakers

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Product(s): Altec inMotion iM510 Mobile Audio
Provided By: Sandisk

Price: ~$119.00 USD (Sandisk Online)

 

Introduction:

Sandisk is a company known for flash storage, as well as lately has made quite a name for themselves in the MP3 market. According to Amazon.com, only two different companies have MP3 players in their "Top 10 Most Popular MP3 Players" list, I'm sure you can guess the first one (Apple), but the other company is Sandisk.

Sandisk has released the Sansa line of MP3 players, and they have been receiving a ton of positive reviews, and the price and features you get make them a definite competitor to the Apple iPod. The Sansa line features a few different models right now (e-series, m-series, and c-series), but have a few new models coming out in the near future (Sansa View, Sansa Connect and Sansa Express). We took a sneak peek of these new models at CES 2007, and hope to be able to take a closer look at them a bit nearer to their release date. The Sansa line has quickly become known as a very well-priced and feature-rich line of MP3 players, and we will be taking a look at some of their models very soon.

One neat feature of the Sansa line, is that Sandisk has third-party companies making accessories for the Sansa line, including Altec Lansing, which has produced the inMotion iM510 that we are going to take a look at today.

The inMotion iM510 is a portable set of speakers, which allows you to drop your Sansa player into the dock and enjoy your music without headphones. This set of speakers is definitely meant to be portable, and boasts very good battery life, so you don't need to bring a bag of batteries along with you.

Well, enough with the introduction, let's get onto the testing....

 

Test System(s)

Sandisk Sansa e270 (6 gig)
Sandisk Sansa c250 (2 gig)

 

Whats in the Box:

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  • inMotion iM510 Mobile Speaker System
  • Power Supply
  • Sansa Docking Adapters
  • 3.5 mm Stereo Cable
  • Protective Carry Bag
  • Users Guide and Quick Connect Instructions

 

First Impressions:

Opening the box immediately makes you notice how small this unit actually is, I was expecting the unit to be a bit bigger (I had not seen pictures before I received this unit). Once I pulled everything out of the box I then began to wonder, "Where does the Sansa go?"; which I quickly figured out as I pushed the dock release and the retractable dock popped out, thus answering my question.

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Front of Box
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Side of Box
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Back of Box

 

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Dock (Open)
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MP3 Player in Dock
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Dock (Closed)

 


First Impressions: (continued)

A nice bonus with this unit is that is included a carrying bag, I was expecting a cheap little bag, but the one included is actually very nice and has extra room for your MP3 player, etc. Also as you can see below there are extra connections on the back (Aux, Sub Out), a couple of nice extra features.

 

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Carrying Bag (Open)
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Carrying Bag (Closed)
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Rear Connections

  

Altec inMotion iM510 Specifications:

Taken from Sandisk.com

  • SOUND - An amplified extension of your Sansa, the inMotion iM510 replaces headphone listening and delivers high quality, crystal-clear sound.
  • MOBILE - The compact, lightweight speaker system that goes just about anywhere you want to listen to music.
  • CHARGED - The inMotion iM510 automatically recharges your Sansa when plugged in and docked.
  • UNPLUGGED - The inMotion iM510’s long battery life gives you complete freedom.


It’s so cool, it’s hot! The iM510 sound system is for all those times when you want to take off the headphones and get loose. It delivers surprisingly powerful, room-filling sound. It’s shock-resistant. And just in case you want to add deep bass to your already rich sound experience, the iM510 is compatible with the BB2001 subwoofer (optional). There’s no better portable system for your favorite room, or for the road. Fits, syncs and charges dockable Sandisk Sansa™ e200 and c200 Series.

Product Specifications:
  • Advanced Class D amplifier for maximum power and more than 24 hours of battery life (4 AA batteries not included).
  • Superior MaxxBass® technology for quality bass without a subwoofer.
  • Built-in docking station for Sansa data transfer and recharge.
  • Compact design folds to close for convenient mobility.
  • Weighs only 20 ounces (570 g).
  • Folds to close at 8.4“ wide, 2.1“ deep, and 3.8“ high (213 mm x 54 mm x 96 mm).
  • Input jack for second device connection, including CD, DVD and other Sansa MP3 players.

 


Altec inMotion iM510 Testing:

When you first open the box of the iM510 you immediately find a paper telling you that you need the latest firmware if you want your Sansa to work with this speaker dock. It definitely warns you that your Sansa might now work right away, and since I was testing this dock, I made sure to try before I updated the firmware on my e270, and yup, they weren't kidding, nothing happened.

So I first had to update the firmware, which was very, very simple. All you need to do is go to the Sandisk site, download the firmware update program, follow the instructions, and just like magic, you've got the latest firmware. The nice thing with the Sandisk firmware update program is that it works with the e-series, m-series and c-series, so you don't need to sort through a bunch of different models.

Ok, so updating the firmware was completed, and it's time to test this dock out.

Setup was pretty straight-forward, you put the Sansa in the dock, turn the dock on, then turn the Sansa MP3 player on, and you've got music.

If you do not have a Sansa MP3 player, or would like to hook a different MP3 or audio device into the iM510, you can plug it into the back through the "Aux" port. The iM510 also features a "sub out" jack so that you can hook up a subwoofer if you so choose.

Immediately I was impressed by the sound that came out of this little unit, the sound quality is quite remarkable for small speakers like this. Also the volume is a lot better that I expected, I expected it to be like other "portable" speakers, but I was wrong, this little unit can really go loud. Of course when you crank the thing up to its max the sound quality degrades, but that can only be expected.

The battery life of this unit is great too, according to the Sandisk site, 24 hours on 4 AA batteries. I was a little shocked to see that kind of battery life, but after using this unit for about a week, I still haven't had to change the batteries. Of course you can plug this unit into the wall using the AC adapter that comes with it, but if you want to go completely portable, 24 hours of battery life should be more than enough for anyone.

One feature that sort of puzzled me was the USB port on the back (Cable not included), this port will allow you to transfer music onto your Sansa (while the dock is off). At first I thought this might be nice and handy, but after thinking about it I sort of wonder how useful this actually is. You can't use it with the dock on, so you have to unplug the USB cable anyways when you want to use the dock, so for myself I found it just as easy to take the Sansa out, and plug it into the USB cable that came with my Sansa. I guess it's a feature that's nice to have, but I honestly didn't use it more than once.

Basically once I had tried both the MP3 players that I have (e270 and c250), I really have no complaints about this dock. I don't mind that when I'm reviewing products, it's nice every once and a while to have no issues whatsoever.

 

 

Altec inMotion iM510 Final Thoughts:

When I was told I was receiving this product to test, I was a bit skeptical as to what I was getting. I've heard and purchased "Travel" speakers in the past, and I have never been overly impressed by them. So when I received this product I was a little skeptical.

This unit has changed my mind. My biggest concern was sound quality, but I was actually very happy with the iM510, it sounds great! Of course with it being a small unit you're not going to get booming bass or anything, but overall the sound quality is very impressive for a unit of this size. The volume is also something that surprised me, you can definitely crank it up enough to easily hear it across a bit room. Another feature that surprised me was battery life, this little unit can last about 24 hours on 4 AA batteries, not too bad at all.

Not only do you get the dock, but you also get a nice carrying bag for it. I was expecting the cheapest bag possible, but when I pulled out the bag that was included I was actually quite impressed. It's nice and padded, and has some extra room for your MP3 player and other accessories that you might need to bring along. It might not be a feature that changes your mind and convinces you to buy this unit, but it's nice to see that they didn't try and save a few bucks and give you a crappy case.

The main drawback to this set of speakers is the price, they retail for $119.00 USD (approx $140.00 CDN), but if your looking for a super-portable, great sounding speaker dock for you're Sansa MP3 player, you can't go wrong with this unit.

At the end of the day, this is definitely a recommended product. I have no problems awarding it our Top Pick award. Sure this dock might be a little more expensive than others, but if you are in the market for a portable speaker for you Sansa, you can't go wrong with this one.

Pros:

  • Very Good Sound Quality
  • Amazing Battery Life
  • Very Portable

Cons:

  • Price ($119.00 USD)

   

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
10/10
Software Pack:
N/A
Stability:
N/A
Features:
10/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 9.5

  Top Pick

I'd like to thank Sandisk for allowing us to review the iM510. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.