Easy listening

Easy listening
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First Published: Fri, May 23 2008. 10 51 PM IST

Sound blaster: (left) The gizmo provides a superior alternative to onboard speakers; (right) the AudioHub conveniently plugs into your laptop.
Sound blaster: (left) The gizmo provides a superior alternative to onboard speakers; (right) the AudioHub conveniently plugs into your laptop.
Updated: Mon, May 26 2008. 02 07 PM IST
Laptops today are paragons of technology; growing sleeker, lighter and more desirable with each iteration. Thanks to more powerful batteries, wireless Internet and lighter, slimmer designs, laptops are both powerful and portable, while the addition of a dock, monitor and peripherals makes it both a desktop replacement and a couch/road companion. Take my Apple MacBook Pro, for example; it is crammed with memory and space-hogging stuff such as Adobe CS3, Quark XPress, Google Earth and other programmes that I like to work and play with. It handles everything that I would throw at my desktop at work, and does it well, too, all the while being my principal digital music platform at home.
Sound blaster: (left) The gizmo provides a superior alternative to onboard speakers; (right) the AudioHub conveniently plugs into your laptop.
Yes, laptops are very cool pieces of tech — but the speakers they come with are simply pathetic. Your average laptop crams in a speaker or two, which are almost always tiny and underpowered. The folks at Logitech have come up with an intriguing solution: The AudioHub is a 2.1 speaker system for laptops in a compact form, with the promise of a much better sound system than you’ll get with those cheap built-in speakers. As an added bonus, the Logitech AudioHub is a powered USB hub with space for the myriad USB devices that now surround any computer.
At just three-and-a-half inches in height, the AudioHub is a sleek, low-profile design and it slides in or out to match the length of the speaker to your notebook. The two satellites are visible from each side of the notebook, with the subwoofer hidden behind the display. The slim, slender speaker is portable and integrates all three units (subwoofer and two satellites) to a single stand, making it easy to carry. There are no buttons on AudioHub other than an illuminated volume dial on the right edge that glows orange when the speaker is switched on.
Setting up the Logitech AudioHub is effortless, with no drivers required, which is always appreciated. All you need to do is connect the USB connector to the available port in your notebook, connect the AC power adapter to a plug point and power up the speakers to take over duties from the onboard speakers without having to change anything. The AudioHub has three USB ports to connect additional devices. There’s also a plastic stalk that connects to the speaker unit to hold a webcam just behind the display, which is cool if you are into that kind of thing. Along the back of the AudioHub, a cable hook efficiently manages cable clutter.
The AudioHub comes with two satellites and a subwoofer. The subwoofer features a 3-inch driver and a wispy 9 watt RMS output. The satellites, which flank the sub on both sides, sport 2-inch drivers and a 3 watt RMS rating.
These are not speakers that will make you worry about upsetting your curmudgeonly neighbours but, to be fair, they are very small and not meant to shake your fillings loose.
On first impression, the speakers are not too shabby. They actually get much louder than my onboard speakers, and are loud enough not to crank them at full volume. The subwoofer doesn’t deliver more than a hint of bass, but the satellites do a decent enough job with mids and highs. And, it goes without saying that they are far, far better than the onboard speakers in most laptops.
The AudioHub won’t blow you away with home theatre-like sound or earth-shaking bass, but it offers surprisingly good audio given its diminutive size. The USB hub is a welcome addition, too, and I also like the idiot-proof installation and controls.
The Logitech AudioHub succeeds in delivering great sound in a portable, feature-rich package that notebook users will totally dig. Notch another one up for the folks at Logitech. The speakers cost Rs6,595.
Harsh Man Rai is managing editor, Rolling Stone, India.
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First Published: Fri, May 23 2008. 10 51 PM IST