iMainGo, by Portable Sound Laboratories
Posted: 3-Jun-2008

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Portable Sound Labs Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The obvious way to listen to your iPod on the go is using the included earphones, or even a pair of your own 3rd party earphones or headphones. But what if you're on the go, and you want to share your music, and don't have an iPod speaker system at your disposal. Perhaps at school, or in the park, or at a friend's house, you might like to share your music. Or, if you're like me, sometimes using the earphones is just plain uncomfortable. I tend to get ear aches after prolonged use of earphones. A very convenient solution to this need is a portable iPod speaker, and one such product is the iMainGo by Portable Sound Laboratories.

Features

  • Compact and light design
  • State-of-the-art digital amplifier
  • High output stereo speakers
  • Tuned porting for enhanced bass
  • Custom fits all iPods
  • Solid construction and built-in air cushions protect iPod
  • Access to iPod controls without opening iMainGo
  • Wake up alarm feature (for alarm-equipped iPods only)
  • High quality sewn fabric exterior
  • Removable carry strap included


Price
$39.99 (seen as low as $34.88 on Amazon.com)

Included

  • iMainGo case
  • Internal iPod speaker cable
  • Foam insert
  • iPod back plate
  • Velcro strap
  • Carry strap


Setup
Setting up your iMainGo is pretty straight forward. Open the case, and insert 4 AAA batteries (not included). It isn't the most user-friendly of battery compartments, and you will want to navigate the straps in the compartment so that when you want to change the batteries, you can use the straps to remove them easily. After installing the batteries, grab your iPod, connect the internal iMainGo speaker cable to your iPod, and then push the face of your iPod against the clear plastic front of the case. Place the foam insert against the back of your iPod (in this review, I'm using the iPod classic), then place the iPod back plate against the foam. Use the Velcro strap to tighten the iPod into place, flip the switch to "Music", and then close the case.

The iMainGo comes in 5 colors: Pink, Black, Blue, Silver and Green. This review is for the black iMainGo.


Black iMainGo with Black iPod playing inside

How It Works
Once the iPod is inserted in the iMainGo, using the iPod is no different from using the iPod by itself. You use all of the main iPod controls to navigate through the menus, play and pause music, and adjust volume. The iMainGo itself has no adjustments, only the switch that toggles between OFF, MUSIC, and ALARM.

The music is played through the iMainGo speakers which are on the back of the case.


Back of iMainGo

How It Rates
For such a compact unit, the sound from this case is amazingly good. I was very impressed when I first played it, and continue to enjoy its sound from subsequent playing in a variety of different situations and volume levels. The sound is far superior to any handheld radios that you may have used in the "old days". I was very surprised at the crispness and bass of the music being played through the iPod. Mind you, this is not on par with your home stereo or $200 iPod speaker system by any stretch of the imagination, but then you cannot carry these systems with you to the beach, to school, or to the park (well, okay, some parks have electrical outlets that you could plug in an iPod speaker system).

Access to the iPod controls through the clear plastic window is easy, and I never had any problems with the controls. I did not have to use greater pressure, just used the iPod controls just like I normally would. In addition, the case serves as protection for the iPod. It's very sturdy, and the speakers on the back are also protected with grill guards. If you were to drop this unit, both the speakers and the iPod would likely come out of it unscathed.

Have the on/off switch inside the case at first seemed like a minor inconvenience, because you have to unzip the unit to open it up, flip the switch, then re-zip. Although this is only a minor pain, human nature dictates habit to avoid minor pain, which leads to the habit of simply forgetting to turn off the switch when you are done playing music. This leads to the one major issue with the unit. If you leave the switch on, even if you do not play the iPod, it drains the batteries. It's too bad there is not a sensing device built-in such that it automatically shuts off when there is no music playing. In fact, it would be a great improvement if the device activated on and off automatically based upon whether the iPod was on or off. I tested this unit for several months, and I went through at least 6 sets of batteries (and that's 4 AAA batteries a set).

Having said that, I can also attest to the longevity of the iMaingo. There is no degradation of sound over time, and the unit looks just as good now as it did when I first received it. I brought it to the beach where I was able to share music with my friends. I brought it to school when I was taking Chinese classes, and I was able to use it to share Chinese music with my classmates. I brought it to China where I could play music in the hotel room as well as listen to MP3 versions of my Chinese lessons. This iMaingo has been halfway around the world and back, and still plays like a champ (not to mention withstanding the dreaded airport baggage handling).

Summary
Portable Sound Laboratories brings us the iMaingo, a convenient portable speaker for your iPod. The iMaingo packs a powerful sound in a small case, and the case provides ample enough protection for both the iPod and the external speakers. The case is stylish, and easy to grip, but the on/off switch is tucked away inside. If you don't remember to turn off the switch, which is easy to do, the 4 AAA batteries will drain even when the iPod is not in use. The battery issue is the only thing that keeps this unit from being rated 5 mice. The convenience of having portable iPod music far outweighs the battery issue. You can take the iMaingo with you anywhere and share your iPod music, or simply listen with the comfort of not having plugs jammed in your ears. If you have an iPod, and you ever have a need to use the iPod on-the-go without headphones, the iMaingo is the way to go.

Pros

  • Convenient playback of iPod
  • Portable good quality sound
  • Protective case
  • Affordable
  • Share music or listen without the discomfort of headphones

Cons

  • Must re-open case every time to toggle power
  • Easy to forget to turn off
  • If iMaingo left on, it drains batteries even when iPod is not in use


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice