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January 9, 2012 • News, Reviews

iMainGoXP iPad Speaker Case Review

I have been fairly happy with the quality and volume of the speakers in my iPad 2, but I wouldn’t begin to pretend that they can fill a room or substitute for an external speaker system. I will typically hook up to a home setup somewhere in the house, something like the Orb Audio setup I recently reviewed. But that isn’t a portable solution, so when I got the chance to look at the iMainGo XP iPad speaker case I jumped at the offer! So let’s take a look and see how it performs!

The Hype:
iMainGo XP is an ultra-portable speaker system and protective case for your iPad or iPad 2. iMainGo XP features premium high output stereo speakers that are perfect for music, movies, gaming, presentations, assistive tech apps, and more. This smart case will convert from a case to stand which lets you enjoy more applications like watching videos, using Facetime, and typing on the keyboard.

The Reality:
I am not planning to evaluate the iMainGo XP against something like the Orb Audio … that simply isn’t the purpose of the iMainGo XP. So what IS the purpose? Once you get your hands on the system it becomes obvious – and is why I loved it.

The iMainGo XP is a portable sound system for the iPad – and pretty much anything with a 3.5mm output jack. The system is nominally an iPad case – for either the original or iPad 2 – but is flexible enough to use with just about anything.

In fact, I found myself looking at the iMainGo XP as three different systems: an iPad case with speakers, a portable iPad ‘movie theater’ and a great portable speaker system for Kindle Fire.

Before I get to that let’s start by taking a look at the iMainGo XP itself. The back is solid and the front is split down the middle with hinged ‘doors’ that swing out to either side. The doors are held in place by sliding latches that provide my only complaint about the device – getting both sides to reliably hold in place was at times problematic.

Along the top edge you have the power switch with light, dual headphone jacks, auxilliary output and a plug for the power adapter. That is one of my favorite features: the iMainGo XP has rechargeable batteries that you charge with the included adapter and which provide 8 hours of usage according to the specifications. In reality I have used them across several days and found that by charging them at the same time as my iPad I never worried about having power for the speakers.

Another great thing is the flexibility of configurations: you can have it as a case for the iPad, fold the doors all the way around the back to benefit from the sound and not worry about the added width of the doors, or have the speakers extended either with or without the stand. The stand itself is fully articulated to provide added flexibility in mounting, so you can use the iPad with the system in either portait or landscape mode.

But ultimately the value of a speaker system comes not from flexibility but sound. Here are the specs:

•Amplifier: premium state-of-the-art digital
•Bass: Tuned porting
•Power Supply: rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included)
•Plug-in charger included
•Battery life 8 hours full volume
•Plug: 3.5mm gold-tipped stereo
•Size: 10.2? x 7.6? x 1.5?
•One year limited warranty

In terms of the performance as a speaker system, the main appeal of the iMainGo XP is that you can carry your iPad around in it, then pop the iPad out and use it as a speaker system. There are holes along the side so you can access the volume rockers on the iPad. It is worth noting that all volume control is through the iPad – this is a better solution than duelling controls between device and speaker.

I found that the iMainGoXP worked very well in pretty much every configuration – but as I use my iPad mostly as a ‘laptop replacement’ I was very impressed at how great it sounded even when the speakers were folded under and sitting on my lap. I expected muffled sound, but the music I was enjoying sounded clear and crisp. Make no mistake – it sounded louder and clearer with the speakers unobstructed, but in terms of portability it makes a great compromise.

The fold-up stand transforms the iMainGo XP from just a speaker-case to a portable theater. Now you can set up your iPad to watch a movie, route the sound through the speakers, and use the case and stand to set the screen to the perfect angle for viewing video.

But as I was testing the iPad with the iMainGo XP something occurred to me – maybe the speakers could be used to salvage the dismal Kindle Fire speakers! Setup was easy enough by using the included adapter or a longer cord for flexibility, and as shown in my video review the sound was excellent. The only problem is with the Kindle Fire – no hardware controls for volume. So if you have everything set at full blast during a game cutscene you might have several seconds before you can gain control and lower the volume.

I was thrilled with the performance of the iMainGo XP – I had relatively low expectations going in, but the sound reproduction was quite solid across the entire frequency spectrum considering the size of the system and especially considering the size of the speakers. This won’t replace your home theater system or high end speaker setup … but it IS better than trying to watch a movie with just the iPad speaker in anything but the quietest environment. And since it is also a case, you can always have it with you!

Here is my video review:

Review: iMainGoXP iPad Speaker Case

Where to Buy: Portable Sound Labs Store

Price: $119.95 (on sale for $109.99 at Amazon.com

What I Like: Great sound; easy to setup; works with everything; stand provides great utility; ultra-portable; iPad case feature works well.

What Needs Improvement: The door closure mechanisms were a bit ponderous to control

Source: Manufacturer provide review unit

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