Speakers for Laptop Or Notebook
Many people use a laptop or notebook computer as their primary computer, eschewing the bulk and immobility of desktop machines. But they also like their music and videos. However, the speakers that come with most portable computers are just a step above terrible. Here are some tips on selecting a set of great portable speakers for your laptop or netbook...
Choosing Speakers for Your Laptop
Everyone knows that laptops typically have lousy speakers -- the same kind of speakers that my little AM/FM transistor radio had when I was a kid in 1978. The problem is not the laptop's audio processing technology, generally speaking. The audio chips built into the motherboards of modern laptops, notebooks, and even tiny netbooks are usually adequate for all but the most finicky audiophiles. No, it's the electromechanical reproduction of sound waves - the speaker system - that often falls short.
The speakers built into most portable computers are tiny and their components are chosen more to save cost and weight than to reproduce sound with high fidelity. If you want a pleasant listening experience, you need quality external speakers of some sort. There are several options.
Earphones are the most portable sort of external speakers, and they allow one to listen to Metallica at full volume without being thrown out of a library or off of an airliner. Earphones range in size from nut-sized earbuds that literally plug into your ear canals (some of which sound surprisingly impressive) to full-blown wraparound headsets with padded ear cushions. The top of the line here are the Bose QuietComfort 3 acoustic noise cancelling headphones, which offer high-performance, a compact design , and a price tag of $349.
But some people don't want speakers on their heads; for them, desktop portable speakers are the answer.
You have to be careful when choosing desktop speakers for a portable computer. Some "passive" speakers do not have their own power supplies, or built-in amplifiers. A desktop computer may supply adequate power to speakers, but a portable computer's batteries will drain more quickly. The audio circuitry in portable computers rarely provides adequate amplification; an amplifier must be built into the speaker system. An amplifier and power transformer add bulk and weight to speaker systems.
Portable USB Laptop Speakers
But there are plenty of well-engineered portable speaker systems on the market today. They draw power from the computer through USB cables, but they are so energy-efficient they can be used on battery power for extended periods. They're tiny - two inches in diameter or less - so they fit into a notebook case. Most importantly, the best portable speakers are rugged, with metal cases and protective grilles over the speaker membranes.
Amenities to look for in portable speakers include volume and playlist controls, which allow you to select songs and adjust the sound without typing or clicking with a mouse. A single cable running from USB port and through both speakers is simpler and less liable to tangle than a pair. Mini-jacks for MP3 players, an iPhone, and other sound sources are built into some speaker systems. Remote-control speakers are available for adjusting sound and selecting tracks during presentations.
Here are a few USB-powered portable speaker systems that I think are good choices:
- Logitech V20 Notebook Speakers are lightweight, USB-powered, and offer spectacular sound reproduction, especially in the bass and high ranges. One nice feature: you can change tracks or adjust the volume right from your speakers. Street price: $69.
- Creative Labs N400 portable notebook speakers come with X-Fi technology that promises to enhance your MP3s, and turn music and movies into immersive surround sound. The N400 has a single USB cable for both power and audio, built-in control buttons, and a compact travel case. Street price: $69.
- The Altec Lansing iML237 USB ORBIT is billed as ultraportable,. But the ORBIT delivers surprisingly big sound from a small form factor. The round design provides a 360-degree sound field, making it good for parties. Street price: $49.
- HP USB Mini Speakers are small, compact and offer great sound for the price. On the downside, they lack onboard controls, and require you to fiddle with three color-coded cables for setup. A nice set of travel speakers, and I found them on Amazon for only $24.
In addition to those listed above, other portable speaker manufacturers include Pioneer, Sony, Panasonic, Tritton, Yamaha, the Edirol division of Roland, Alesis, and many others. The best place to buy portable speakers depends on your budget and tastes. If you're going to buy anything under $80, shop around online to find the best deal. If you're a true audiophile, you'll want something in the higher end. In that case, specialty audio stores will have the widest variety of high-end portable speakers for you to sample before buying.
Do you have something to say about portable laptop speakers? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Apr 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Speakers for Laptop Or Notebook (Posted: 23 Apr 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved