As noted, this is also a portable system and it runs on AC or battery power. According to Altec, it can last up to 30 hours on eight D-cell batteries, which will cost you over $20. We'd recommend that frequent battery users invest in rechargeables. To that end, it would've been nice if Altec included a built-in rechargeable battery pack, or the ability to juice up third-party rechargeables just by plugging the Mix into the wall (a feature we loved on the Tivoli SongBook).
That octet of D batteries will add some weight to the unit, which comes in at 10.1 pounds (without batteries) and measures 7.7 inches high by 19.7 inches wide by 9.3 inches deep. Needless to say, this is one of the bigger portable iPod speakers out there, and you probably won't want to lug it too far. But carrying it out to the patio or pool shouldn't tax you.
Thanks in large part to its side-firing 5.25-inch subwoofers (one's active, one's a passive radiator), the Mix is designed to play loud and fill a good-size room with sound. The unit also contains two 3-inch midrange drivers and two 1-inch horn-loaded tweeters, and you can adjust the bass and treble settings using the EQ settings button on the remote or on the unit itself.
Overall, we were pretty impressed with what we heard. There's good detail, and the system is well balanced (read: smooth), with no big holes in the high, low, or midrange. And what's immediately clear is that this thing has some serious kick to it. The Mix may not be able to take the place of a true component-based system, but it does sound bigger than it looks, and the bass really thumps. Indeed, this makes for a great party box.
For our testing, we listened to the same wide range of music that we did with the older iMT800--everything from Elvis Costello and Dan Auerbach to more popular club hits from Lady Gaga and Rihanna. Like its predecessor, the new Mix acquitted itself well with all of it and arguably delivered slightly more refined sound than the Monster Beatbox, which can now be had for $350 and also received strong marks from CNET (the Beatbox has a more minimalist, sleeker design).
In the end, while its retro styling may not appeal to everyone, the Altec Lansing Mix iMT810 is a well-designed and versatile iPod speaker that you should strongly consider if you're looking for a system that sounds good, has some oomph to it, and is portable (or at least luggable). We have no reservations recommending it.
At the time of this writing, Amazon has the older iMT800 on sale for just over $200, but no discounts yet on the new model. If you don't need the iPhone 4 certification, we recommend saving the dough on the older model, which sounds identical to this one. However, once the remaining inventory of iMT800s sell out, the new iMT810 should come down in price.
Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.