Pros Sound quality and bass output, video output to TV, can use 4 "C" batteries, knapsack carrying case, rugged housing
Cons Audible "hiss" during silent portions of songs. A remote would have been nice. A bit heavy probably due to large speaker magnets and D-class amplifier.
Summary This speaker is ALMOST perfect! It has 90% of the bass response that the iM7 has but it is in a much more portable/packable housing. High's are crystal clear. And you can raise the volume fairly high before distortion starts to set in. Music is rich, warm with some surprising punch. I was blown away when I first heard it live in an Apple store. It's amazing how much sound this thing puts out from a fairly small, flat package.
The housing has a semi-soft, rubber feel to it that should absorb bumps without showing bruises. And the buttons (except the power button) are behind a rubber face. The covers for the battery compartment and connections are also rubber. The intention may have been for the speaker to be splash proof but that would be impossible with an exposed iPod (and clickwheel) on the front. They market the speaker as "shock resistant" without any mention of water.
Being able to use standard "C" batteries is a big plus as speakers with built-in rechargeable batteries are dead in the water if you are away from an outlet for any extended period of time (like camping). Altec claims 24 hours of use on 4 batteries and should they die, it's easy to have an extra set kept in the knapsack. Yes, it comes with it's own single shoulder-strap knapsack that has an additional pocket, bottle holder, and cell phone pocket on the strap. Pretty handy indeed.
I have one complaint and it's pretty significant but not a deal breaker to me. During silent parts of tracks there is an audible hiss coming throught the speakers. It doesn't seem to be there once there is music playing and under normal conditions or outdoors you won't even know it's there. Music playback itself was crystal clear so it wasn't a deal breaker for me. If you plan to use this speaker mostly in a quiet room with soft music that contains lots of silent portions, it may be an issue for you. Your best bet is to try to hear it live before purchasing it to see if the hiss bothers you.
But in the end, to get this much portable bass and battery use, the only other option on the market is the iM7. It was too big for me and it used "D" batteries instead of "C", making it a huge brick to carry just like back in the 80's with old fashion boom-boxes. The iM9 was just the right size with just the right sound quality and bass.
(Note that Buy.com has it significantly cheaper at $165 than other places but who knows if they may raise that price.)Updated
That it does charge your iPod, whether in use or not in use. In addition to the composite video out (NOT S-video), it also has a headphone out, AUX in, and a connector to sync with a PC (USB/Firewire cable not included.)
Pros Near Bose Sound Quality and Cord Free!!
Cons Heavier than some. No remote.
Summary I just got my iM9 from the Apple store and could not be happier. The sound fills the room. It has a DC power cord or runs on the iPod power cord, but best of all it runs on regular batteries for portability without being tied to the outlet. The volume control is sealed to prevent gunk from blocking and jamming the volume switch and the case is surrounded by rubber to cushion a fall making it klutz proof. This thing is near perfect. When I compared the sound to the Bose and Klipsch systems the sound was close but not perfect. You would not notice this when the others were not around. It is around $100 to $150 dollars cheaper. You have to give up the remote but you get a backpack to carry the unit with you. A real advantage when the system is portable.
In summary, the unit works as it should and is a worthy purchase.
Pros Highly Portable, charges iPod when plugged in
Cons Some distortion from tracks with heavy bass or at MAX volume level
Summary I bought this item because there are many outdoor activities in New Orleans, including tons of parades. People my age spend hours outside drinking on the parade route long before the parades begin. It runs on 4 C batteries when you don't have it plugged in. I have a new iPod which lasts for hours, compared to my poor old one which now only lasts about 45 mins on a full charge. I have had this thing going at high volume for a 10 hour stretch on new batteries and it kept going. So I was glad to see the player can go all day on new batteries. The time challenge is probably more closely related to how much charge your iPod is carrying, as it will probably die before this player will(when putting new batteries in at the get go.) The sound quality is great and the product design feels very durable, with a "rubberish" surround. My only caution would be the beach or anywhere sandy as the iPod is actually exposed to the elements, and we all know how sand just tends to get everywhere. Another piece of advice, the item is black (as is my iPod), so don't leave it sitting out in the sun all day! I found mine to be very hot after about 1 hour of direct sunlight. Covered it with a shirt and it was good the rest of the day .
"Boom, boom, boom!"on by david01
Pros Rugged design, highly portable
Cons Bass is overwhelming & non-adjustable
Summary I just bought the iM9 and plan to take it back today. Unless you LOVE a preponderance of bass, this is not a great choice for a clear-sounding speaker. Even after adjusting the settings on my iPod, there's no way to fix this problem. Very disappointing; I don't know what they are (yet), but there have to be better options than this for portable, clear, and balanced sound.
Pros Portable, long battery life, Ipod integration, bassy.
Cons No Treble/Bass adjustments, too bassy at times, no cover on the Ipod face.
Summary I was looking for a cheap portable radio with a aux line-in. This was for a river trip in Utah and it performed well. My only reservations about the IM9 is the lack of Treble/Bass adjustments, too bassy at times, no cover on the Ipod face so you have to worry about sand being kicked into it. Other than that, the IM9 worked marvelously.