Great-sounding substitute for pricey Airplay products
We live in an age where a simple app is an easy victory for any marketing team, but beyond the hype, do we actually needs apps to control our gadgets? Noted US-based audio brand Altec Lansing think not, and on its new inMotion Air product has eschewed the whole idea of a custom-made app.
Instead, it uses any Apple gadget's native iTunes software, or any other audio app you happen to be using (we're thinking apps like the £1.19 TuneIn radio, 59p Internet Radio Box or - if you want to show-off - perhaps even the 59p Air Harp), and sends it over Bluetooth to the inMotion Air speaker.
A wireless speaker rather than a dedicated Internet radio, it's so simple to stream straight to the inMotion not just from any Apple gadget, but also from Android smartphone, laptop or desktop. Anything, in fact, with Bluetooth.
With its limited bandwidth, Bluetooth hasn't exactly made a name for itself when it comes to carrying audiophile-grade audio (though we have seen it employed successfully on some relatively high-end products from the likes of Pioneer), but it's been souped-up here with apt-X and Maxx audio tech, which combine to upscale compressed MP3 files to an impressive degree. It depends on the source used, but sound quality is far above what we expected for such a small product; stereo imaging is always excellent.
Don't confuse the inMotion's Bluetooth streaming with Apple AirPlay, which provides lossless sound quality; Bluetooth does not, but here it comes pretty close, and the iTunes integration is similar.
The inMotion pops-up as an option to send the audio to - just as with AirPlay products - but here's there's a positive difference; streaming is instantaneous, unlike AirPlay. Streamed over 10 metres (the maximum distance), the results are excellent - bassy and full - though it's speech-based Internet radio stations, which can be streamed using any app of your choice (we used an iPhone 4 running TuneIn) that sound the best.
If you think that puny distance is a tad limiting, think bigger; the inMotion - which houses a rechargeable five-hour battery so can be carried around wirelessly - ships with a innovative USB dongle in the box that extends its reach to 100 metres. That dongle is designed for using with a laptop or desktop and has a line out, meaning it's possible to hook-up a laptop to your current hi-fi system, then stream the same tunes to a iMW725 elsewhere in the house - or from a smartphone to two iMW725's at once.
The lack of WiFi networking effectively means no streaming of music from a large library of MP3s on a PC or Mac, so you're limited to what's on your phone, but the inMotion remains a fuss-free and impressive substitute for pricey Apple AirPlay products.
Altec Lansing inMotion Air iMW725 launch date: Out now, link Altec Lansing
Altec Lansing inMotion Air iMW725 price: Around £180