Gadling gear review – Altec Lansing iMT800 MIX – the boombox is back!

The year is 1984 – you put on your backpack, fill your pockets with twenty bucks worth of D cell’s, and grab a couple of your best Duran Duran and Culture Club tapes off the dresser. As you leave on your trip, you carry your Panasonic Boombox to the car, ready to use it while walking down the street at your destination – because that is what cool people do.

It may have been years since anyone traveled with a Boombox, let alone had anything that required tapes, but portable audio is more alive than ever. Some people may travel with a portable speaker, but others may be in need of something with a little more “oomph”.

The Altec Lansing iMT800 “MIX” Boombox is the boombox from the 80’s – reinvented. The MIX has some of that great 80’s styling, combined with the features you’d expect from a current generation music accessory.

At first glance, it is hard to not notice the massive speakers on the front and side of the unit. In the middle is an iPod dock and a display, and on the top are controls and 2 additional inputs.
The MIX comes with the usual assortment of iPod docking adapters, making it compatible with any iPod, iPod Touch or iPhone with a dock connector. Once inserted into the MIX, a metal bracket slides down over your player, keeping it in place, and preventing it from falling out.

Like the old Boomboxes from the 80’s, the MIX also takes a huge stash of D cell batteries – 8 in total. They’ll keep the unit running for about 30 hours (manufacturer rating).

When at home, or in a hotel, the unit can also operate off the included AC adapter. I would have preferred to see the AC adapter built into the unit, but that would have pushed its weight to the max.

On the front and top of the MIX are carrying handles – they are not just for decoration, as they really are strong enough to hold the unit with. This means you can actually use the Altec Lansing iMT800 MIX as a shoulder carried boombox, listening to Van Halen playing off your 32GB iPhone 3GS. Sure, you’ll look like a bit of a dork, but that probably has more to do with your taste in music. On the rear of the MIX is the AC jack and FM antenna.

The MIX offers 4 different music sources – iPod/iPhone, FM Radio and 2 AUX inputs. The unit comes with 2 3.5mm cables, which means you can hook up a non-Apple device like a Zune or a Blackberry.

The display on the front of the MIX is very cool – it can be programmed with your own personal startup message, and displays what kind of iPod is inserted. It also shows the track name when you play stuff off the iPod dock. The display also shows RDS information from any compatible radio station you are tuned in to.

Controlling the MIX is simple – the top has just 4 buttons and a dial. Included with the unit is a wireless remote control. This remote can control the power, source, iPod track, volume and radio preset. It has a slick carabiner clip on the top, should you feel the urge to clip it to your pants.

Now on to the most important part of the product – the audio. If you were planning to use the MIX to take care of the music at your next party, you will not be disappointed. Not only does it sound fantastic, it can be cranked up to MAX to produce some absolutely mind blowing volume, without any distortion.

The integrated equalizer is great – in basic mode, it lets you control bass and treble, and if you hold down the EQ button along with the track forward/back buttons at the same time, you enter a more advanced 7 band EQ mode.

All joking aside, I’m sure not many of you will seriously be considering purchasing one of these to carry around on your shoulders on your next trip. At 10.1lbs (without batteries), it’ll take up a considerable amount of your baggage allowance. That said – it is the perfect companion for a road trip or a day at the beach.

The iMT800 MIX retails for $299.95, which is about $100 cheaper than a comparable portable system.

There are a couple of minor things I would have wanted to see on the unit – The iPod control is very basic, you can only play/pause and skip tracks. At this price point, a full iPod control would have been nicer. I would have also liked to see a video output on the unit. Other than those minor gripes, I’m very impressed with the iMT800. Sound is fantastic and I love the looks – this thing really screams “loud”.

The iMT800 MIX Digital Boombox is available directly from Altec Lansing or as a pre-order from