im414 Zune Speaker Dock
(click to enlarge images)
Atlec Lansing brings it's second Zune speaker dock to the market. The im414 works with all generations of Zune, and all sizes. It looks like and alarm clock, but read on. It's not.
The im414 has 3 input modes: Zune, AUX, and FM radio. It comes with one insert for the Zune 4/8 but no inserts for the 30 and 80. Without inserts it's a little tricky to line the big Zunes up, but it gets easier with practice, and they do fit.
Unlike the m604 (also made by Altec) the im414 has no video out. No USB. No headphone port. No equalizer. It does have a blue LCD display that shows volume level and radio station. Don't be fooled though, there is no clock on this dock.
The dock does come with a remote control. Full functionality is not available, there is no way to navigate the Zune menus. The remote will adjust volume and change tracks. It also has 3 FM presets and the all important "mega bass" button.
If you are on the go, pop in 3 AA batteries and forget the power cord all together. Oops, almost forgot to mention, there is also a surround sound button. It creates a nice tin can echo sound for all your music, use at your own risk.
So how does it sound? For the size of the unit not bad. For quiet background music and podcasts it's fine. The im414 has 2 drivers, roughly 2 inches in diameter. In contrast the m604 has 4 drivers and can separate the lows from the highs. Trying to get a full frequency range from a single diameter driver is trouble. As the volume on the im414 goes up, sound quality goes down. In fact, the owner's manual has a trouble shooting guide. It says if the unit sounds distorted turn it down.
Current MSRP for the im414 is $100. When the larger m604 was released last year it cost $200, but after a year the price has dropped significantly. For now new the m604 is clearly the better value. Check out the m604 review before you buy the im414.