Review: iMainGo X Ultra-Portable Speaker and Case for iPod/iPhone

Listening to an iPod or iPhone through earbuds is a decidedly private activity. The iMainGo X flips the script and allows you to share your portable audio with those around you. Though it may not be a product that you use every day, it’s not hard to imagine a variety of scenarios where the iMainGo X would be of great use. It’s a great device for taking your tunes to the beach, the campfire or any other public place where a portable stereo would be too cumbersome. It’s also great for listening in rooms in the home where you otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t, such as in the garage while you’re working on your car or in the bathroom while you soak in a hot bath.

Look and Feel
The iMainGo X is designed to look like a portable cassette player–a Walkman, for those old enough to remember the existence of such a thing. It might be more accurate to describe it as a really fat wallet with speakers on one side and a clear plastic window that allows you to see through to your mobile device on the other. The case of the iMainGo X is very sturdy and the exterior is a smooth, black fabric that feels durable and looks quite sleek. The clamshell case opens via a zipper to reveal an interior that consists of the internal hardware (including a rechargeable battery and amplifier) and a “slot” for your mobile device (ostensibly, an iPod or iPhone, although any small mp3 player with a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack will work). I was happy to discover that my iPhone fit in without forcing me to remove the thick plastic case I use. A piece of foam is included to ensure that even smaller devices (like an iPod Nano) will fit in snugly and safely.

Interface

There is no interface to speak of here. The clear window in the case allows you to directly manipulate your iPod or iPhone while it’s inside the case, although it can be difficult to manipulate a touchscreen device (like an iPod Touch or iPhone) through the plastic with accuracy. Switching tracks and adjusting volume is all done via your mobile device, not the iMainGo X itself. On the other side of the case, there’s a power switch, charging port and several other ports for plugging in headphones and even a microphone (so you can use the iMainGo X as a sort of mini-megaphone). It’s not entirely clear why you would want to plug headphones into the iMainGo X when you could connect your headphones directly to your iPod or iPhone, but one possibility is so that you can share your private audio with a friend–there are two headphone ports on the case.

Technical Specs

The iMainGo X’s speakers are 37mm premium high output stereo speakers that output 2.1 W per channel. The battery is a rechargeable lithium-ion that claims to have a life of 12 hours. The charging cable is included in the box. Unlike some other iPod speakers, the iMainGo X does not charge the battery on your phone or mp3 player. Charging the battery on an iMainGo X takes about six hours, which can be a bit of a bummer if you don’t plan ahead and give it a charge well in advance of use.

Sound

For portable speakers, the iMainGo X sounds great. The audio is clear and the volume can be adjusted up to a level that would be more than adequate for a small party. The bass isn’t booming, but it is more powerful than you would expect from such a small device. I listened to music and podcasts and found no instances where I was disappointed with the quality of the sound. At the upper end of the volume scale, audio gets a bit distorted, but this is par for the course with devices of this sort.

Portability

The iMainGo X is much to large too fit in anyone’s pockets, but it can easily be carried in a purse or small bag. It comes with a carry bag and a lanyard that allows you to wear it around your neck, but I had a hard time imagining myself using either item.

Best Features

  • Sounds great
  • Rechargeable battery–no chance of running out of AAs!
  • Durable, enclosed design of the device makes you feel like your iPod or iPhone is safe from the elements

Needs Improvement

  • It would be nice if the battery charged in less than six hours
  • Perhaps a bit too bulky
  • If you get a phone call while your iPhone is inside the iMainGo X, you have to unzip the case in order to remove your phone and take the call

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