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Altec Lansing inMotion iMT1 Mobile Audio

Tue Apr 18, 2006 - 12:13 PM EDT - By Jay Gross


The inMotion works on four AA's, which don't come with it, or you can hook it up to AC using the included wall wart (complete with a whole kit of plugs for international compatibility). When it's powered from AC, the maximum volume is higher, and the bass response is a bit better. It's not bad on batteries, mind you, just better when AC-powered. This is probably a power-saving, battery-life-extending decision by the designers. I'd vote for better sound, instead.

If the device is AC-powered, the Treo charges while perched on the inMotion’s familiar Palm multi-connector. It does not charge from the USB cable only. Powered from AC, the device stays on, but when on batteries it senses whether music is playing and turns itself off if inactive. Nice.

According to the company, a set of batteries will give you 24 hours of music. Your bunnies will probably vary. There are many types, grades, brands, and amp-hours of batteries with and without cute floppy-eared mascots. If you're going to use this thing (or anything else) a lot, invest in a charger and a couple of sets of rechargeable NiMH batteries early on and save yourself wads of cash on throwaway Alkalines.


Hooking up the Treo to the inMotion iMT1 is delightfully simple. It operates as a cradle for the Treo 650. A bar releases the cradle's cap, which flips up so you can set the Treo into its clutches. The docking space is tight and form-fitting; it won't accommodate a 650 in a case, so you'll have to strip the SmartPhone for action.

To use the iMT1 as a charge/sync cradle, hook it up to your computer. That requires a standard USB 2.0 cable, not supplied with the product. The Treo's USB piggy-back charge/sync cable won't do.

All of the inMotion's ports nestle in a classy oval cutout sealed by a pliable cover on the back of the unit. The pale-green cover hinges and flexes to afford access to the ports, but detaches only by chainsaw, so it won't get lost or left in a coffeehouse. Very thoughtful.

These are the ports:
  • USB 2.0 - requires a standard A-B USB cable
  • AUX - a 3.5mm jack for an external audio device - like an MP3 player, a CD player, a portable DVD player, or (gasp!) an iPod (The company also makes an iPod-specific inMotion that docks an iPod instead of a Treo). The inMotion iMT1 comes with a (Short! Only 10 inches.) cable with which to hook these up.
  • Sub Out - a 3.5mm jack accommodates the company's new powered subwoofer box. A $50 option, the subwoofer contains a 4-inch speaker to pump out the low frequencies. Forget specs again - there aren't any. You'd expect such a device to amplify audio below about 50 Hertz (meaning audio cycles per second, not rental cars). Stomp the bottom pedal in the lowest register of a large pipe organ, and you get a low "A", about 27 Hertz. Johann Sebastian Bach territory, for sure.
  • DC in - for the included wall wart. There's no car charger, but the batteries take care of that situation gloriously.
  • Earphone - 3.5mm, not Treo 2.5mm.

Now the Gotchas

The inMotion's beautiful packaging, as well as all the websites including TreoCentral’s store, prominently mention that the device works only on Treos that are connected to CDMA networks. That is true. I asked Altec Lansing's technical support human why, and he replied "Because that's the way we designed it." Maybe, but the real reason is that Treo 650s on GSM networks emit a periodic signal, checking in with their towers, and that causes a glitch in the output.

The "polling" is part of the design of the GSM network protocols, the most popular in the world, particularly the non-USA world. Polling allows the network to keep track of which tower is handling what caller, and route calls to a specific place. CDMA networks do the same thing, but the polling is multiplexed in a different way, hence their apparent lack of interference.

According to the box, the GSM polling interference applies to speakerphone usage only, not music mode. With my Treo 650 on SunCom’s GSM network, the interference ruined both modes, music and speakerphone. That may not be true on other networks - there are many companies in the GSM camp, and variant options within the network specification for handling the polling calls.

The problem isn't what it does, but the fact that it does it, frequently, like clockwork. It's no biggie at first, but in only a few minutes it becomes intolerable. In speakerphone mode, the gotcha, an audible drop-out, messes up the conversation for a second or less, but it gets annoying very fast.

After much frowning, I hit up my next door neighbor for the use of his Treo 650, and verified that CDMA phones, like his on Verizon's network don't have the problem. At all. So when Altec says the iMT1 is for CDMA 650s only, they mean it.

Coming soon to a 700w near you

The 700w is recent on the Treo scene, and you might be tempted to think it isn't mentioned in the literature because it is so new. At this writing, the Treo 700w DOES NOT WORK, not even a little bit, with the inMotion iMT1 That's capital letters and bold type. A spokesperson for Altec Lansing said the reason for the incompatibility is within the Windows Mobile OS, and that Palm is working on a revision that will fix the problem. At this writing, too, Palm has made a 700w ROM update available. However, this apparently does not address the issues Altec Lansing's critter needs for compatibility with 700w's. Best advice: see it first and bet on it second. The company has been given no ship date for such a release, but has assured Altec Lansing (according to Altec Lansing's spokesperson) that it will be fixed.

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Product Info
> Name Altec Lansing inMotion iMT1 Mobile Audio
> Company Altec Lansing
> Weight 24 oz. / 680 g.
> Works with Treo 650 (CDMA only), Palm LifeDrive, T5, E2
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
> Available
> $179.95

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