Review: Memorex miniMove mi3x Portable Boombox for iPod
Though there are certainly hundreds and perhaps thousands of iPod speaker systems out there, most of the new ones more or less identical to previous models, there are occasionally innovations. Today, we're looking at four recent releases, two from Logic3, and the other two from Memorex. Both companies are known for budget-priced offerings, and true to form, these affordable speakers range in price from $50 to $130. None is sonically phenomenal, but each has a unique design or feature that we've never seen before.
Memorex’s miniMove mi3x ($50) is the smallest self-described “boombox” we’ve yet seen for an iPod; it is shaped almost like a purse, pitched towards girls, and offered in black, pink, or silver versions. Each is predominantly plastic with a large metal front grille and a silver, retractable metal radio antenna on the back left side for improved FM radio tuning. You also get a seven-button Infrared remote control, Dock Adapters, and a power supply for in-home use; miniMove can run on four AA batteries when you’re on the go. Its roughly 4” maximum thickness is the only impediment to tossing it in a briefcase; the approximate 9” width and 6” height, the latter mostly attributable to the handle, are in keeping with the size of most portable iPod audio systems.
What we liked about miniMove was simple: this is one of the nicest-looking, least expensive speakers yet sold for the iPod, featuring sleek curves and an easily carried body that will appeal to some users, but not offend the visual sensibilities of others. It produces decent sound—better than you’d get from smaller $50 speakers we’ve tested, for sure—and it also gets decent FM radio reception. Stations come in, albeit generally with at least some static, mitigated by use and positioning of the antenna. Tuning is handled in .1 FM frequencies on a small but brightly backlit little screen, and aided by 10 presets, accessible by repeatedly hitting a “preset” button on the unit or on the remote. You get a bit better than what you’re paying for; here, the price is so low that you’re not paying for much.
In an absolute sense, we weren’t impressed by the sound signature or the dock design. Memorex offers five equalizer settings, off and EQ1 through EQ4. None really improves the system’s flat, radio-like sound quality, which is not very boombox-like in that it lacks for bass, perhaps no surprise given the size and price. On the flip side, miniMove does offer proper but very limited stereo separation, and in keeping with another boombox tradition, the volume can be turned up to loud if not particularly impressive levels.
The dock, which mounts iPods straight rather than on a recline, worked fine with most of our iPods but had an odd issue with one of our fourth-generation iPod nanos, refusing to acknowledge presses of its play button. Other fourth-generation nanos and current classic and touch models worked without an issue, and the same nano worked fine in some other docks, exhibiting the same issue in another. We’re not exactly sure what the issue is, but there seems to be a little something going on there; thankfully, the included remote control’s play button worked fine to activate playback.
Overall, while miniMove isn’t a phenomenal speaker system, it is certainly one of the most affordable options on the market for the iPod, and its combination of good looks and a high maximum volume level may well be enough for some users and applications. Unimpressive radio performance and flat sound distinguish it from better-engineered peers, but as $50 audio systems go, this one’s easy to like, not love.