Tech News on G4
iMainGo XP Portable iPad Home Theatre
Apr 11, 2012
By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin’ - G4 Canada
Home Theatre and portability might be a contradiction in terms, but that seems to be the best way to describe the iMainGo XP by Portable Sound Labs, a battery operated amplified speaker system that does double-duty as a protective iPad case.
It's a black plastic case with a soft rubberized finish that measures 10.2"x7.6" x 1.5" in a closed position and weighs 2 lbs. There are cutouts in the case so you have access to your doc and iPad controls. There's even a little clear plastic window in the back, keeping the Apple logo visible through the case so onlookers know you're using the real thing.
Built-In Digital Amplifier
The unit itself has an LED power indicator, a power switch that controls the company's SX149 10 watt built-in digital amplifier, as well as a port for your AC adapter (included).
There are 2 built in headphone jacks, which I found a little perplexing at first since this is a speaker system. However interestingly enough, if you plug into the 2nd jack only, the external speakers will remain on. This allows the user to hook up and daisy chain additional speakers to the system.
From the closed position, two sliders, positioned on the top and bottom slide horizontally to unlock the case allowing you to reveal, like opening French doors, four titanium coned neodymium high output speakers, 2 on each side.
The satin-finished bottom is where the iPad is designed to sit in landscape-mode and when propped up offers a miniature home-theatre system. (It was originally designed for the original iPad, so iPad 2 owners can use the secondary cradle that snaps into the existing one.)
There is no built-in stand per-se, although the unit will stand up if the speakers are folded out at about a 45-degree angle. A foldable stand is supplied to prop up your iMainGo XP and can be adjusted for the right viewing angle. You can also use the stand with the iPad by itself. In either case you'd need to remember to take it with you.
Sound gets from your iPad to the sound system, not via Bluetooth as one might have expected, but via an extremely short 3.5mm male to male cable.
Watching a movie, the sound experience and stereo separation is quite respectable given the actual size of the drivers. It makes a huge difference and it's miles above just listening through the iPad's built-in speaker - as long as you are not pushing the volume to its maximum. As for music, its fine at average listening levels, but it's a little underpowered and a little light on the bass side if you're trying to pump up the jam!
Runs Battery-Powered for 6 hours
One of the coolest features and what makes it extremely versatile is its built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. While sadly it won't outlast the iPad itself, you can watch a whole lot of YouTube - almost 6 hours before you need to recharge.
Now iMainGo XP is not designed to entertain an entire hall full of people, but for the right person or small group and the right environment it certainly fits the build; its clever design offers an enhanced personal home theatre experience for your iPad while out on the road.
I did have one concern. While the two plastic sliders are a cool idea as a locking mechanism, you need to remember that both speakers need to fold in together at the same time and both locking mechanisms need to be put into place. At times, I felt there was undue pressure on them and if pushed a little too hard, they might snap.
The other thing to keep in mind is the case design keeps your iPad in landscape mode. Now this might be a pain, especially if you want to read an e-Book, which you'd expect to do in portrait mode or play a game that requires you to hold your iPad.
In future designs, I'd like to see the possibility of having Bluetooth connectivity, a physical volume control on the side of the unit for quick and easy access and of course, a built-in stand. And for those who might want to crank up the tunes, maybe an upgraded model with a little more horsepower and battery-life that matches the iPad.
Nevertheless, if you do watch a lot of YouTube videos or maybe you want to give a presentation to a small group, you really can't go wrong with the iMainGo XP for iPad as your personal home theatre.
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