Listening to music is probably our favourite activity on the go, and it's fair to say that many people reading this site own an MP3 player. But no matter what you use to listen to your tunes, be it an MP3 player, phone or even portable CD-player, if it has an on-board speaker in the first place it's not likely to be very good. Even most notebook speakers, with the notable exception of Toshiba's Qosmio range, hardly do justice to anything but the audio basics. And while in many situations headphones are the ideal solution, sometimes you want to share the sound. Enter Altec Lansing's latest revision of its Orbit portable speaker range, the iMT237. According to the box, this is a "mighty little speaker", so let's find out if this claim holds up.
Inside the well presented packaging you'll find not only the speaker itself, but also a quick-start guide, 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio jack adapter (so often omitted), wrist strap and carrying case. The latter is much nicer than you'd expect to find with a product costing under £30. It's made of foam coated on both sides with nylon, lending it a rugged and durable feel and providing good protection. It fits snugly around the iMT237 Orbit speaker and then simply zips up. The zip is covered when closed so it won't snag and there's a strong metal clip which you can use to attach the case to a belt loop or bag strap to free-up the precious space in your bag. The case's dark and light grey colour scheme, meanwhile, matches the iMT237 Orbit perfectly.
Finally onto the portable speaker itself. The iMT237 is a revision of the first Orbit speaker that Altec Lansing brought out, which sports a different design and comes without a case. It's powered by three AAA batteries, which are supplied, and should be good for up to 24 hours of use. While it would have been nice if the speaker was powered over USB, unfortunately that's not an option here. Still, at least you can use rechargeable batteries.
At only 190g, the cylinder-shaped iMT237 is light but it still appears rather imposing for such a small device (only 5.5cm tall with a diameter of 9cm). This is partially because of the metal upper part, and partially thanks to the industrial-looking ‘bolts' arranged along the top. The former also helps to convey a solid feel, and build quality - while not quite exemplary - is very good, so you should have no fears taking this little speaker out and about.