Altec Lansing inMotion iMV712 Review

nismozcar - 2007-10-05 22:38:57 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: nismozcar   
Reviewed on: October 21, 2007
Altec Lansing
Altec Lansing
Price: $349.99


One of the things I most enjoy about buying a new product is the feeling you get when unwrapping and holding your shiny, new gadget. An even greater feeling is experienced later on down the road when you buy your gadget, and the now sullen, less shiny gadget gets new life.Since the release of the first iPod in 2001, we have seen many models come and go. We witnessed them go from no color to color, from small to big, and from photo to video. With each new iPod model came massive amounts of extra peripherals made by a countless number of companies, designed to enhance your experience when listening to or watching your iPod. And now a couple of months after I purchased my new, shiny iPod, I find myself looking for a way to rekindle the magic this little gadget once held. I had always enjoyed listening to my music and watching my movies and shows, but that was all I was doing. Listening and watching. It was time to find something that would enhance these activities and restore the iPod’s charisma. Well, I wasn’t the only one looking. Altec Lansing searched as well, and when they couldn’t find it, they made it, and introduced the inMotion iMV712 portable audio system. But is this enough to renew the broken relationship?

"Altec Lansing is a leading manufacturer and marketer of high quality computer and home entertainment sound systems, and a line of headsets, headphones, and microphones for personal digital media. "Today the whole world is going digital. It's the most sweeping technology trend since color television or the internet. As you might expect, Altec Lansing is ahead of the curve. We've been designing and manufacturing digital powered audio systems for PCs and portable audio devices for more than a decade. And like no other company, we're producing sophisticated, third and fourth generation products in all price ranges that complement the style and electronics of the most advanced PCs, TVs, iPods, portable audio devices, smartphones, and entertainment centers - enhancing all these digital systems with sound quality that everyone can enjoy."No matter how advanced digital technologies become, we know that great sound will always be essential. Whether you need exceptional solutions for home, on the go, or personal enjoyment, you can count on Altec Lansing to deliver them."


Closer Look:

On the front of the package is a large photo of the iMV712 in action. The picture allows you a glimpse at how your favorite music videos will look on its built-in LCD screen. The amount of features this device has is more than enough to fill the back of the box, and they did. The backside sports a nice profile shot of the iMV712 and details all the features it includes.



Altec wasted no space on this package, and made all viewable sides attractive and informative. The top has the same profile picture, but larger, and lists the remaining specifications and extras. The side incorporates information regarding the iPod compatibility and the contents of the package.



The opposite side panel is accompanied by a picture of the iMV712 in a bedroom setting. Once again the main features are listed. After removing the device from its box, you will notice that Altec took great care to insure a safe delivery. The main unit is carefully wrapped in a lint-free cloth and then surrounded by plastic and tucked between two Styrofoam blocks.



Closer Look:

The contents of the package include an AC adapter, three iPod dock adapters, a universal dock cradle, a pair of composite cables (RCA), a 3.5mm cable, a wireless remote, and the paperwork. Included in the paperwork is the product manual. It details all the functions and options, as well as disclosing all troubleshooting information.





The Quick Install Guide, also found in the paperwork, the front-side details all the steps necessary to begin using the iMV712. The back-side follows by showing how to select the different components using the source button. It also shows the correct way connect the devices into the Altec.



After removing the iMV712 from its wrapping, you notice that the LCD is protected with a rectangle of plastic film. The film has a picture printed on it and gives you a simulated idea of how the screen will look when lit. From the front the iMV712 takes a bold stance. The front faces you at an angle for optimal viewing and the speakers wrap around the back. From the side the distinct shape can really be seen.



The top of the Altec is smooth and almost featureless. The only noticeable features on the top of the device are the iPod dock and the Source, Vol+ and Vol- buttons. These are the only buttons found on the device, but they are also found on the wireless remote.



Closer Look:

There isn’t a sharp edge on the Altec, the backside seamlessly flows over the edge and back underneath. A close-up of the back panel is shown in the second photo, all inputs and outputs are clearly labeled. Notice the primary power switch on the right. This must be set to the ON position in order to be operational. A secondary power button is located on the remote.





There are four rubber pads located on the underside of the iMV712 that the device rests on. Towards the front of the Altec (the bottom edge in the photo), are a pair of riser feet. If a more angled view is desired, simply fold the feet out and set back down. The photo on the right is a picture of the Universal Dock cradle. This adapter attaches to the dock and allows for non-iPod devices to rest safely on the top. The cradle features a no-slip rubber pad to prevent your device from falling.



The remote included with the Altec iMV712 is very small and slim. The dimensions of the remote are approximately 3.5” long, 1.5” wide and a mere 0.25” thick. The layout is simple and concise, the directional buttons encircle the enter button, surrounded by the Play/Pause, Power, Menu and Source buttons. Featured from the middle down are the sound field buttons. They include the Bass, Treble and Volume, Mute and SFX (Sound Field Xpander) controls.



Installation depends on what you are going to connect. I plan on using the video pass-through for movies and connect my Playstation 2 to use on the Altec’s built-in LCD. Pictured is the back of iMV712, I have connected an S-Video cable for video pass-through and my composite PS2 connector for games, and the last cable is the power cord/ac adapter. If using an iPod, install the necessary dock adapter provided in the kit. Finally, connect the other ends of the cables to their respective components and you’re ready to go.





To begin, just set your iPod onto the dock and use the remote to navigate the menu. Using the iMV712 is as simple as using your iPod.  All your music, movies and photos are ready to entertain you. During music playback, the built-in LCD displays Altec’s company logo as a screensaver. The backlight of your iPod is not set by the iMV712 upon docking, to keep it lit change it to always on in the Settings menu. Pictured is the album art of the Blue Scholars self-titled LP during playback.



To play videos, it is necessary to make sure that your iPod is set video out to ON in the Video Settings menu. If this option is not selected the iPod will not transmit the video signal to the built-in LCD. Once properly configured, you will see that the Altec is capable of vibrant playback through its LCD. Aside from its ability to project the videos onto its own built-in LCD, the iMV712 can pass video through S-Video to a television. See in the bottom picture is a scene from Ghost Rider; the Altec delivers a smooth clear picture. Unfortunately, you can’t disable the LCD while playing on the television.



I thought it would be interesting to see how well theiMV712 could display my favorite Playstation 2 game, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec on its built-in LCD. I was instantly impressed with the resolution and clarity the screen possessed. This game would be impossible to play with two players on a split-screen, but for single player games this screen is perfect.




Altec Lansing
inMotion iMV712
3" neodymium full-range speakers

4" side-firing subwoofer

Power 40W RMS / 60W Peak


High-resolution 8.5" widescreen display

SFX Stereo Field Expander

Adjustable sound field (Bass / Treble / SFX)

Universal Dock

S-Video output

Composite input

3.5mm aux input

iPod nano

iPod video

iPod color

iPod mini







In order to test this product, I ran it through a number of rigorous tests. Each test was chosen to specifically target certain features, and to determine if the device was capable of performing on par with its competition. The first test completed was the Music Playback test. I chose one of my favorite albums (Blue Scholars- Blue Scholars, AAC), of which I have listened to on many different stereos, and ran through the entire album at various levels from low to max. The second test is a two part test for this device. I first watched an entire movie (Ghostrider, MPEG4) on the bulit-in LCD, and on my television using the iMV712’s pass-through. I also decided to test the built-in LCD by hooking up my PS2 through the composite inputs in the back of the iMV712 and played Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec for a couple of tracks. I was fortunate to receive two iPod docking stations at the same time, so for my testing I will be comparing the Altec Lansing iMV712 to the Logitech Pure-Fi Elite. The last two graphs are based on my opinion of form and function, and given a rating for comparison.


Testing Setup:


The first test proved not so favorable for the iMV712. While playing through the album, I immediately noticed the warm, rich sound the Altec was capable of producing. The dynamic-range was fantastic and the built-in subwoofer helped add dimension without detracting from the rest of the field. However, when turning the volume up past half, the sound instantly became distorted and unclear. The Logitech Pure-Fi Elite gained the upper-hand in this test for its ability to maintain the sound integrity throughout the volume range. The iMv712 gained ground on the Elite in the second test. The video playback test compared the video pass-through for both devices, with the iMV712 coming out on top for its impressive picture when played through S-Video. The Altec’s built-in LCD also displayed a magnificent picture from both the iPod and PS2. Even though it is not possible to adjust the properties of the LCD, the picture was well lit and extremely sharp and clear. I was surprised to see how well the LCD rendered the tracks and cars during motion throughout the entire track. The SFX (Sound Field Xpander) really helped broaden the soundstage for both music and video playback which helped bump up the scores in both tests.



When judging the styling of the components, I took into account a couple of things, the size and use of design. The Logitech’s design allowed the iPod to sit down inside of the docking station, keeping the iPod out of danger. That feature ultimately gave the Pure-Fi the win in this category. But the iMV712 still has an elegant, smooth shape. The large widescreen LCD in the front is complementary to the large sweeping speakers that wrap around the sides. The Altec isn’t bulky or boxy, it slopes softly towards the back and curves around the bottom. The universal cradle is excellent for those who own a Microsoft Zune or other Mp3 devices, allowing them to be placed in the exact same location as the iPod. The iMV712 regains the lead in the ease of use test. The big reason it got such high marks was due to the fact that the remote has the ability to navigate through the iPod’s menu. This feature is huge when trying to switch albums or videos, and makes the overall experience easy. The remote is simple, and contains all buttons needed for operation, including the bass and treble buttons, as well as the SFX button. But the Altec lacks the ability to adjust the LCD properties and doesn’t have any on-screen menu, which kept the Altec from receiving 100 points in this category.




Well, the good news is that my iPod and I are speaking to each other again. It turns out that the Altec Lansing inMotion iMV712 was exactly what we needed, and more. The 8.5” high-definition LCD was a great addition and provided clear, crisp and smooth cinematic replay. The best part was that not only could I watch media from my iPod, I could also input any device with composite cables into the aux input. I was surprised at how well the screen handled Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, the tracks were very detailed and the cars held their vibrant sheen. The wireless remote is flawless, its compact design and simplicity are extremely useful, but even more useful is the fact that you are able to navigate the iPod’s menu with it. If you’re not interested in watching a movie on the built-in LCD, the addition of the S-Video out makes connecting this device to your television no problem. However, only the iPod can be viewed through S-Video. One thing I found troubling was the fact that there is no way to adjust the settings of the built-in LCD. It would be nice to able to change the brightness, color or sharpness if needed. The sound quality was great, but when the volume was turned up, distortion was noticeable. You could solve the problem by turning down the bass and treble, but this caused the dynamic-range to sound very soft when set to a lower volume. I also was concerned for the safety of my iPod as it sat exposed to any dangers perched atop the iMV712. Overall, the Altec Lansing inMotion iMV712 is capable of producing great sound, great picture, and a great relationship between you and your iPod.