by Bill Palmer
Speaker cases are one of the more novel iPhone accessory concepts, and iMainGo is by far the best one on the market. Now the company attempts to adapt the concept to the iPad, in the form of the iMainGo XP. The design is that of a hardshell case whose front face is split into two halves which swivel open like double doors to reveal built-in speakers. That leaves the iPad’s screen on display, and the speaker-doors open at whatever angle you like; a small cable plugs into the iPad’s headphone port. Fire up your music using your iPad’s on-screen controls, and it’s as simple as that.
The XP has a built in battery, and the unit can be recharged via the included wall plug. The only on-board control is a power switch, but the iPad’s own volume buttons line up on top such that the XP doesn’t need volume controls of its own. The whole thing will stand upright on its own, so long as you position the speaker-doors at an angle (or you can lay the unit flat on its back). If you use the included stand, it leans the iPad’s screen back slightly for easier access and viewing. The stand also allows the speaker-doors to be positioned at any angle, including parallel with the iPad itself or even ninety degrees backwards, depending on where you want the audio to travel.
The speaker-doors can be closed with the iPad still inside, and two sliding levers keep them from opening. You can play music with the doors closed, but the audio is comparatively muffled, meaning that the product is meant to be used with the doors open. The XP doesn’t charge your iPad, but there’s room to connect your own iPad charging cable if need be.
There’s a lot to like here. First and foremost is that considering the size and design of the product, the audio from the four speakers is better than it has any right to be (then again, at $119 list price or $99 around the internet, you’re paying a good chunk of change). And while most speaker cases require you to either open a zipper or work through a funky clear plastic cover in order to access your touchscreen controls, the XP leaves your iPad’s screen directly accessible. That’s great for music playback, and even better for watching movies. You’re more or less stuck using the iPad in landscape mode, but that fits with the multimedia apps you’re most likely to use it with.
The whole thing is more than an inch thick when folded up, but not as heavy as I would have expected. And I like the fact that while it’s even more flexible with the stand, you don’t need the stand in order to make good use of it. As a case, it properly protects all four of the iPad’s corners, where protection is most needed. I do wish there were some kind of padding on the insides of the speaker-doors for when they get folded up against the iPad’s screen, just for safety’s sake, but in my tests I didn’t see any potential for damage. There’s a headphone port on top in case you want to use your earbuds while carrying it.
As far as compatibility goes, the XP is marketed for the iPad 1 and iPad 2, with a filler insert included for use with the latter. But I had no trouble using the new third generation iPad as well. iMainGo XP is one of the coolest iPad accessories on the market.
Price: $119 list (currently $99 on Amazon) • imaingo.com