Here at GadgetReview, we’re no strangers to testing out some crazy portable speakers. I think just about everyone on staff has worked with at least one, and there’s more and more coming out all the time. Sometimes you get something that sounds like it’s being played through a cardboard box, but then other times you’re lucky enough to get something in like the iMainGo X. With larger home theater speakers, you generally get what you pay for in terms of sound quality (ear buds usually follow this model as well, albeit in a different fashion), but the field of ultra-portable speakers is still trying to find its niche so there are times that you can find something that really puts out the sound but doesn’t put a hurt on your wallet. Such is the case here, with a portable speaker system that pushes out a crazy level of sound for a budget price.
The first this that you’ll notice about the iMainGo X is that it’s fairly large; I’d liken it to the size of an old Sony Walkman. I don’t count that as a negative, because being so big it really feels solid – just know that you’re not going to be fitting this inside of a pocket very easily. Really though, when you pick up the iMainGo you can just feel its solid craftsmanship, and you know that there’s very little space in that big box that’s going to waste. The actual dimensions are 5.7 inches by 3.8 inches by 2.4 inches (length, width, and height respectively), so you can see what I mean about size.
The design of the iMainGo X is fairly minimalistic, which is nice to see. The majority of the outer casing is black (or pink if you order that color), with a zipper that splits it down the center height-wise. On one of the main faces is a clear plastic shield, so you can use the touchscreen on your iPod (or Zune presumably, but I don’t have one of those to test it with). The plastic isn’t anything that’s really going to offer any protection from damage – however it will protect against dust, dirt, and maybe a splash of water while still allowing you to operate your device without opening the case. On the other face is a silver panel with the two speakers and air ports as well as a smaller silver panels with the power switch and a bunch of inputs on it.
It is these inputs that separates the iMainGo X from previous iterations in the iMainGo product line. For starters, there are jacks for two headphones. This is a great feature – especially if you have ever experienced what it is like to drive somewhere with two children in the back seat fighting over who gets to listen to the iPod. I’ve done it, and I WISH I would have had this then to help save some of my sanity. Another thing you can do is use the second headphone jack to daisy chain some more iMainGo unit (or any other external speaker you may have) together for massive sound. The next input is a microphone input, allowing you to turn your iMainGo X into a portable karaoke machine of sorts. I have also seen pictures of people using that jack to plug an electric guitar into – turning the iMainGo X into a cheap amp of sorts, but I didn’t have a guitar to check that out with.
The last input on the front of the iMainGo X is for the power cord to charge this thing up. Sporting a 7.4 volt 800mAh Li-Po battery, the iMainGo X has a decent run time of around twelve hours. I had read complaints that the battery life was only four hours, but apparently that was from an earlier model, because I never experienced a short battery life like that. I would be tempted to say that the iMainGo X actually had more staying power than some of the other smaller speakers I’ve tested out – but it should seeing as how it is bigger.
The one thing I would really like to see implemented in a future model or hardware revision, would be some controls on the side in case you have your iPhone and not iPod inside of it. I take my iPhone everywhere and really use it for anything I want to listen to anymore – however with no way to effectively control it from the outside, I would have to leave the case unzipped when I had it in in case anyone called. Really the only thing you would need to add would be a button that could activate the power button on an iPhone since they already have it so you can use a touchscreen through the back. It’s a small issue, but one that bothered me throughout my time testing the iMainGo X nonetheless.
The sound output from the iMainGo X is a lot better than you would expect from a portable speaker. From the ones I’ve tested before I suppose I was just used to a certain level of “loudness” and accepted that portable jobs wouldn’t do much to improve on it; boy was I mistaken. I took the iMainGo X outside with me while I was testing out some power tools, and I was able to hear everything coming from it with no problem at all, even over a reciprocating saw. Not only could I hear it, but I could hear it clearly. Even at fully maxed volume on my iPhone, I noticed only the slightest distortion.
The Bottom Line: The iMainGo X is a great speaker for anyone that is looking for a portable job that can put out the most sound for your buck – be warned though that it is a little bulky.
- The sound that the iMainGo X puts out is better and louder than any other portable speaker I’ve tried
- All the inputs on the front mean that the iMainGo X is versatile, and able to be used in a number of situations
- Being able to control an iPod without having to open the case is a big plus
- The iMainGo X is way too big to fit in a pocket – you almost have to carry it by the strap
- Unfortunately there’s no easy way to control an iPhone with it unless you open the case up
- Did I mention that it’s big? Yeah? O.K., just making sure
You can grab an iMainGo X of your very own Walmart (or any number of other online retailers) for only $56.99