The Altec Lansing inMotion Air Wireless Audio System is a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that works with a Mac, PC or any Bluetooth-enabled music player or smartphone.
We tried it with a variety of devices, and were surprised by its stellar sound quality, not to mention its good looks. However, in our tests, its wireless range was nowhere near the 100 meters claimed by Altec Lansing for its Bluetooth dongle.
The $200 inMotion Air speaker has the easiest Bluetooth pairing routine I’ve ever seen. With one push of a button, the USB Bluetooth dongle was instantly synced up with the speaker.
After charging the speaker for about five hours, its lithium-ion battery was ready to power the system completely. The USB Bluetooth transceiver plugs into any Mac or PC, and any audio from the computer plays through the inMotion Air speaker, which behaves identically to any other USB sound output device. That includes any audio from an Internet browser, or any application that produces audio. So, I immediately went to my Pandora Radio account and it streamed through the speaker perfectly.
Connecting an iPhone and iPad were equally easy, and they all worked well with the speaker. It was a simple matter of turning on Bluetooth in the settings, and then selecting the inMotion speaker on the list of detected devices. I was also able to use my laptop’s internal Bluetooth radio to connect with the speaker.
The best aspect of this wireless audio system is its excellent sound quality. While it doesn’t have the thundering bass of my favorite wireless audio product, the $400 Sonos Wi-Fi audio system, the inMotion’s highs and midrange were sparkling and realistic, while its bass response was particularly powerful for the speaker’s diminutive form factor. Properly placed in a corner, it was able to deliver what I would call pleasant, high-fidelity sound.
Two minor gripes: I was slightly disappointed because the company says you can move the speaker 100 meters (328 feet) away from its Bluetooth dongle, but that’s apparently not the case unless you’re using it in a vacant lot. Going through one wall inside of a house, the best we could do was about 45 feet, and less than that with an iPhone and an iPad. That’s not bad, though, because it’s a whole lot farther away than we’ve been able to go with any other Bluetooth device.
The other slight problem is the inability to launch iTunes on my laptop using the remote control, something that the company says is not possible with some configurations. Unfortunately, mine was one of those. But those are small complaints, considering the inMotion’s sound quality and ease of use.
Come along with me to the gallery for a pictorial tour of the system, where I’ll offer additional comments and observations along the way.
Check out that asymmetrical shape. This is one attractive wireless speaker.
Control your music from here, streamed wirelessly from a Mac or PC, or a Bluetooth-compatible music player or smartphone. It was easy to set up our PC, iPhone and iPad.
Look how the thing leans back. But it’s still sturdy, even though it looks like it could tip over at any moment. And I mean that in a good way.
Back 3/4 View
The slot in the middle is a handle, and the recessed area on the right is where the remote is stowed.
You can plug in its AC adapter, or it plays for seven hours on its rechargeable internal lithium ion battery.
It’s light and easy to carry with its slot/handle in back.
Blue Light Peeking Through
There’s a subtle blue light in the middle.
Two Speakers Inside
Those two drivers have great-sounding midrange and highs, and even though the speakers are small, the bass sounded surprisingly strong, especially when placed in a corner.
Remote Stowed Away
Here’s the remote nestled in its slot…
Removing the Remote
…sliding out when you’re ready to use it.
Control audio from your Mac or PC with this, and you’re supposed to be able to launch your default audio program (that didn’t work for my Windows 7 laptop, though). ESS is the Expanded Sound Stage technology, which does a convincing job of making it sound like the speakers are farther apart.
Even the remote has that asymmetrical theme going on.
Plug this into a USB port on a Mac or PC, and it’ll let stream the music about 45 feet away (that’s with one wall in between).
We plugged it in, and it streams music wirelessly. But the farthest away we could separate dongle and speaker without the sound breaking up was about 45 feet, far less than the 328 feet quoted by Altec Lansing.