Altec Lansing Orbit iM237 USB speaker

Let's face it, your laptop or netbook speakers are pretty drab aren't they? Unless you've opted for one of those Toshiba Qosmio's with the Hardon Karmen sound systems, chances are the noise you get isn't going to make it beyond your desk let alone give you a chance to party in your hotel room.

That's where Altec Lansing is hoping to step in with an update to its Orbit range to allow you to plug it in to your laptop rather than just an MP3 player. Rather than a 3.5mm jack socket as found on the virtually identically named and spec-ed iMT237, it plugs in via USB giving you a digital connection rather than an analogue one.

Looks wise, the speaker is, as we've said, virtually the same in design and performance. You get the same hockey puck styled speaker, but this time it comes with a kick-out stand giving you the chance to aim it in your general direction. The stand certainly aids the speaker's performance over the sound just rising from the desk as before and it means you won't have to have it so loud.  

When not in use the kickstand can be folded away and the in-built USB cable folded away out of sight for travelling.

Other notable differences over the previous model include the loss of the AAA battery in favour of taking a charge from your computer and a more stylish black and gold colour scheme over the previous silver offering.

The power option will save you having to worry about AAA batteries but it does mean that it will be draining power from your laptop or netbook and it's something to bear in mind if you are worried about power usage.

What about sound performance? As you might expect the Orbit iML237 isn't going to blow you away and audiophiles should probably stop reading now. While at loud volumes the performance is dubious for the price, but for what Altec Lansing set out to do the Orbit iML237 isn't too bad. It is all about giving you volume and the chance to share your music at your hotel bedroom desk rather than being a replacement for your home PC stereo system.

Verdict

We tested it on a range of music from The Presets to Rolling Stones and while the speaker coped well enough, we wouldn't recommend them for every day listening if you are really into your music.

Of course it lacks any real bass element or depth, but then that's not really the point. This is a way of enhancing your laptop's speakers on the cheap rather than making your tunes sound the best they possibly could.

With that in mind, it's not too shabby.