I'd love to give the iMainGo XP speaker system from Portable Sound Laboratories four-and-a-half or five stars. I really would. It has a big, full sound that stands out in a sea of external speaker products that too often give a 2D sound. Unfortunately, the iMainGo XP design doesn't lend itself to being an everyday accessory, and one big flaw is sure to become a constant annoyance.
iMainGo XP Features
- Portable speaker-case solution
- 4 32mm 5 watt speakers
- 2 headphone jacks allow for multiple "private" listening and daisy chaining
- 6 hours of battery life
- Works with all iPad models
iMainGo XP: The Good
The iMainGo XP has great sound for the price. It's not perfect. When the volume is turned all the way up, the sound can get a little flat, but the speakers output a very full sound up to about the 80% mark, and considering the volume the iMainGo XP can output, this should be fine for most uses.
It's not going to power a dance hall. At full volume, the iMainGo XP is slightly loud for one room and listenable from another room, but you won't be using it as the backbone for your dance party. But for listening to music around the house, watching movies with a fuller sound than the iPad's speakers can produce and as a sound system for vacations, picnics and various other outdoor or away-from-home activities, the iMainGo XP is great.
The speaker system acts as a case for the iPad, with a protective backplate used to fit the iPad 2 and iPad 3. Weighing in at two pounds, it will definitely add a little heft to the iPad, but not so much as to reduce the portability. The rechargeable battery lasts a little over six hours, which should be good for most uses. The iMainGo XP comes with an external stand, and normally I don't like carrying around something extra with my iPad, but the stand can really be ignored. It's easy enough to use the speakers to keep the iPad upright.
iMainGo XP: The Bad
The sound does get a little flat at top volume. This is more evident when listening to music than watching movies, but you might want to keep the sound a dash or two away from maximum when using the iMainGo XP. But considering the iMainGo XP retails is selling for just under $100 on Amazon.com, the sound is better than most other products you could buy at that price point.
The iMainGo XP is also designed for landscape use only. The speakers fold out to either side of an landscape-held iPad, which makes holding the iPad in portrait mode awkward at best. The home button also rests very close to the fold-out speaker, which can make it more difficult to press.
But the most irritating flaw of the iMainGo XP is the ease at which the case will press the suspend button on the iPad. The speakers are designed to press the suspend button when folded in and press it again when folded out, essentially putting the iPad to sleep when closed and waking it back up again when opened. But the system accidentally trips the suspend button at even the smallest movement, which means if you are holding the iPad in your hands or in your lap while trying to dial up a movie on Netflix or picking a custom station in Pandora Radio, the suspend button can be triggered simply because you re-positioned the iPad. Since this doesn't detract from playback, it's more of a minor annoyance, but it is definitely in the annoyance category.
When you combine the fact that you can only comfortably use the iPad while in landscape mode and the frequency of the suspend button being accidentally pressed, it's easy to say the iMainGo XP isn't going to be wrapped around your iPad 100% of the time. In fact, you'll really only want to attach it when you plan to use it.
Should You Buy the iMainGo XP?
If you are looking for a good external speaker system that offers both good sound in the home and the portability to bring with you while out of the house, the iMainGo XP gets great marks for being affordable while not sacrificing much in sound quality. It's not going to beat a Bose speaker system, but then again, you also won't need to spend $300 on it.