If space is at a premium in your van, a laptop makes a great replacement for a TV (with a TV tuner or BBC iPlayer), DVD player and music source, but their built-in speakers aren’t always good enough for listening to at loud volume. The solution is a better quality speaker that plugs into the laptop, like the Orbit USB Stereo set just announced by that Altec Lansing.
The Orbit USB Stereo consists of two small desktop speakers that each pack a 40mm speaker driver — much bigger than those used in most laptops. The speakers have a small desktop stand and clip together when not in use — the cable winds around the pair for easy storage, too.
Rather than connect to a laptop’s line-out socket through, the Orbit plugs into a USB port, which gives it a couple of advantages over ordinary external speakers. First, the USB connection means that the Orbit can bypass a laptop’s (usually iffy) onboard sound and instead use its own sound processing circuitry for high-quality audio.
Second, a USB connection also provides power, so the Orbit doesn’t need to run off batteries — though it will drain a laptop’s battery more quickly if it isn’t plugged into the mains.
We haven’t heard the Orbit in action and so we can’t comment on its sound quality, but USB speakers usually sound much sweeter than laptops’ own sound cards and speakers, particularly if the laptop in question is an inexpensive netbook.
The Orbit USB Stereo will be available from Amazon, Dixons and other high street electrical retailers later this month, with an RRP of £40.