The Most Kick-Ass Bluetooth Speaker Money Can Buy
Altec Lansing IMW789 LifeJacket XL Bluetooth Speaker Review
Okay, maybe I exaggerated the title a little bit. If you want to go all out and pickup an entire SONOS system, which is technically still a “Bluetooth Speaker”, feel free to drop a few grand I’m sure it’ll be worth it. However, if you’re like most people and me, you really only want and need a Bluetooth speaker that sounds great, has a long battery life, and can stand up to every day wear and tear.
In that case, you’re looking for the Altec Lansing IMW789 LifeJacket XL Bluetooth Speaker in either Blue and Black or Black and Silver.
I have been using this speaker for over 10 months now and it is working just as well as the day I first bought it. More specifically, it has been loud enough to fill a weight room full of 15 guys for a lifting session, and rugged enough to take on road trips, boat rides, and more. My only complaint is it can be difficult to connect to through Bluetooth, which I’ll get more into that later.
I haven’t been chucking this speaker against a concrete wall, but I think it has taken a lot more abuse then your average consumer would deal. With one speaker, it traveled across the Midwest with a men’s college soccer team. It was moved between locker rooms, hotels, showers, practice fields, buses, and weight rooms. It fell, it tumbled, it was drenched in rain, it was tossed between teammates, and through it all, it still shows up to the office day after day.
With the other speaker I’ve owned, it sat out on the dock with me while I fished and churned out music out on the pontoon. As you can imagine this was not a water-free environment. I’ve never had to find out if it floats, but it wasn’t uncommon for it to catch some wake or get slapped by the occasional fish. Just like the previous one, it continues perform day in and day out.
This is what surprised me the most, especially considering it is a Bluetooth device. Which if you’re not familiar, Bluetooth capabilities are not exactly battery friendly. Every time I have used the speaker it has been connected through Bluetooth, without the AC adapter. Never have I ran into an issue where there was a lack of battery or power.
I’ve been able to play this speaker, connected to Bluetooth on my phone, at max volume for several hours straight without a problem. Altec Lansing claims a 40, yes 40, hour battery life, which I can’t say I’ve tested. I can, however, say it has lasted multiple 3+ hour lifting sessions, hours spent all day out on the boat, and many hours spent at night fishing.
If you forget to charge it one night, don’t worry about it. Odds are likely it’s still ready to go and will last all day anyway.
In terms of sound quality, you typically get what you pay for. I think this speaker follows that motto. While it’s not a Bose speaker, it certainly gives you enough lows and enough highs for 90% of people. Given the other features, it’s easy to justify the $200 price tag. If you’re just looking for something LOUD, then this will be just fine. It’s able to be heard well enough over a weight room of 15 guys, or a single motor pontoon boat.
Build in mic – Great thing to have if you have a call that interrupts the party. Real easy to talk through, and as far as I know it’s clear.
Carrying handle – On one end of the speaker there is a rubberized handle which is built into the speaker. This seems insignificant, but it’s a lifesaver when you’re already carrying a lot of stuff from the boat, beach, or bus and that’s the only item left.
Party Mode – If you have friends or meet up with other people that have Altec Lansing speakers, they can be synchronized together to play the same music. This is a great option if your boat doesn’t have speakers, but you still want some tunes while out on the water. One speaker is great, but two would make it even better.
Additional Inputs – Phone dying? There’s a USB port where you can charge your phone from the speaker’s battery. Don’t want to use Bluetooth? No problem, there’s an AUX input as well.