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An iPhone and iPod case that includes speakers

We all know that the iPhone and iPod touch have pretty skimpy speakers. iPods have no speakers, so we're dependent on headphones or speakers to get any tunes out of them.

Portable Sound Laboratories has an interesting solution that will protect your electronics and give you good sound at the same time. It's called the iMainGo2, and it's a 9 oz., clamshell zippered case that will hold an iPhone or an iPod touch. There's a headphone compatible 3.5mm plug that connects the case to your device. The unit runs on 4 AAA batteries for about 30 hours. We have one on loan for review, and I've been testing it around the house for a few days.

How does it sound? Better than I expected. It had nice bright highs, which were especially audible on percussion like snare drums and triangles. The bass is good, but this is not a device to equal a much bigger speaker system with a subwoofer. Still, it's more than reasonable. The unit appears to use a bass reflex or ducted port design, and if you close your eyes and just listen, you would think you were listening to a bigger system.

You can also use this speaker system to improve your laptop audio. I plugged it into the headphone jack on my MacBook Pro, and the iMainGo2 system was clearly better sounding than my built-in laptop speakers.

The unit does provide stereo, but separation is not terrific given the small size of the case. There is a front window consisting of a heat sensitive plastic screen. It means that you can operate your iPhone or iPod touch while it is safely zipped into the case, which is very nice.

Using my 3G iPhone, the sound was good, and it improved after I set the equalization to "classical" in the iPhone preferences.

Apple could have made my travel life a bit easier if I could plug my iPhone directly into my laptop and play music on it through iTunes, but for some unfathomable reason, that's not allowed. Older hard drive-based iPods were able to do this, In fact, my older 60 gig iPod still does.

The iMainGo2 is a very good solution for music on-the-go without using headphones. The case is well built and looks like it will survive most packing mishaps. The speakers work with all iPods except the Shuffle. It also works with a Zune. If your iPod has an alarm feature, the iMainGo2 has a setting that will wake up the amplifier and get you going in the morning.

Note that your iPhone or iPod touch won't fit in the iMainGo2 if it's in a case . Also, the iMainGo2 case it too large to carry in a pocket. It's something to consider if you usually carry your iPhone or iPod touch that way.

I tried plugging the speakers into an iPad, and it improved the sound quality when compared to the built in speakers. If the company is smart, they will build a dedicated iPad case with bigger speakers. That could be a "must-buy" for many.

The iMainGo2 (a terrible product name, in my opinion) sells for US$39.99, and given the excellent sound and construction, it seems well worth it. It includes the batteries and a carrying strap.

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