It has been almost a week now since I received Portable Sound Labs’ iMainGo XP speakers for the Apple iPad/iPad 2. When I first received it I was so excited that I was fumbling to set it up. Even with my clumsy hands, it came together easily. Then I powered on the speakers and unlocked my iPad and was quite literally blown away by the sound of a game that I had forgotten I had left running, Big Fish‘s “Drawn: Dark Flight“. Because I am so used to adjusting the sound on my iPad with the music volume control setting, I had some difficulty turning it down. Once I used the physical volume control on the side of my iPad and adjusted it down to a comfortable listening volume, I switched over to the new remastered reissue of Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins. While listening to “Disarm”, my mouth quite literally dropped open as I exclaimed “WOW! Listen to that sound!”
The iMainGo XP is compatible with both iPad and iPad 2. If you are using it with the iPad 2 there is an attachment, which they refer to as a “skin”, that you add to the back of your iPad 2 in order to make it fit snugly inside the soft fabric-lined compartment of the case. This accommodation was very well thought out, there is an extension on the attachment that is situated just above the iPad 2 lock button, which helps the control to extend to the outside of the case. Without the attachment, the iPad 2 would fit in the case somewhat loosely and you would not be able to lock it while the case is closed. Your volume controls, headphone jack, lock button, camera lens and charging dock are all accessible while the iPad is in the case and the case is closed.
The form factor of the case itself is a trifold design, the iPad situated horizontally in the center of two sets of speakers. They are attached with hinges on each end that make the speakers fully adjustable to almost any angle, allowing you to adjust them to be completely flat and flush with the device, or even swivel a bit past a completely horizontal plane, which would allow the user to have the screen as the focal point while the speakers are fully open and extended back past the screen in an almost butterfly wing fashion. My preferred way to use the speakers is to set them at a 100 degree angle from the screen, allowing me to stand the iPad and speakers up horizontally. Though you can arrange the unit to stand on it’s own like this, it does also come with an adjustable easel-style stand for more comfortable movie viewing. Along the top of the left set of speakers there are three ports, a switch, and a charge/power indicator light. One port is for charging and two ports are headphone jacks for convenient and covert listening.
These speakers are fantastic. Not just fantastic considering their size, they are pretty great all-around. I don’t have an iDevice dock in my car, so the night that I received the iMainGo XP I decided to test it out on a car ride to a restaurant that is about twenty minutes away. Listening to my music on the iMainGo’s speakers was, surprisingly, a much more pleasant experience than listening on my car speakers. They were also powerful enough to provide just the right ambiance to a party that I was having the next night. When I was still attending Maine College of Art, I did work study in the photo department, meaning that I cleaned darkrooms a couple of days a week. I was also a photo major, so I basically lived in the darkrooms. The stereos that were supposed to be available for students to use when working in the darkrooms always disappeared or were otherwise misplaced, so I bought myself a set of Bose Companion II speakers. If iPad had existed then, and had these speakers been available, I would have opted for the iMainGo XP instead. Incredibly, the sound of these speakers is on a comparable level with my two Bose tweeters and separate subwoofer.
I have to admit that the Bose speakers are really my only means of personal comparison in terms of speakers for the iPad 2 or iPod, but with a price tag difference of over $100, and with very comparable sound quality for listening to music and watching movies, I would have to say that the iMainGo XP is definitely the speaker set to get. On top of getting high-quality sound for your iPad, you also get a very rugged case. I have dropped my iPad a few times while it was in the case and didn’t even worry about it because the outer casing of the iMainGo XP is so sturdy. It is also in a nice matte finish that does not fingerprint easily, and if you happen to get something on it, is very easily cleaned. The speakers themselves are compatible with any device you might want to plug them into, even though the case is only for iPad. Portable Sound Labs also offers other iMainGo products for the iPod and iPhone if you are looking for fantastic speakers for your smaller iOS device. The only criticism that I could offer for this product is for Portable Sound Labs to see if perhaps they could devise a way to make the speaker compartments a little slimmer in future incarnations. Overall, I give this product 4.5 gears out of 5.