The orbit USB stereo speakers are a practical and robust way of improving a laptop or netbooks sound quality. Directly powered from the machines USB port, without the need for external power, model iML247 from Altec Lancing will be a useful and simple extra for the traveller who wants to enhance the audio irrespective of whether it is for playing of CDs or for using Skype.
Each speaker incorporates a 40mm driver which is covered by a metal grid that will prevent damage in the rough and tumble of travel. The orbit is simple to connect and with the volume being adjusted by means of the laptop’s normal audio desktop icon and so gives about 2.5 times the volume of the laptop’s built-in speakers and with better frequency response.
If you are looking for inspiration for selecting Christmas gifts, either for your own wish list or for giving to friends and family, then Altec Lansing and Plantronics have provided me with details of some products you might like to consider.
With the popularity of the Apple iPod / iPad family of products, it is not surprising that kits supporting these devices are well represented. The Altec Lansing Octiv™ 450 lets you dock, charge and play music from your iPad / iPAD 2 / iPhone / iPod unit. The Octiv 450 product uses Altec Lansing's Audio Alignment technology to deliver superior sound quality for playing HD video and music.
One aspect of a laptop or netbook that often gets ignored is that of audio output with speakers that do not enhance your listening pleasure.
It has been quite a while since I last had the opportunity to review an Altec Lansing speaker system. If memory serves me correct, it was the Altec Lansing Orbit 360 product which appeared nearly three years ago. Perhaps, surprisingly, considering the speed at which technology advances and new products make an appearance, Altec Lansing is still developing new offerings for the Orbit family. The latest addition to this family is the Orbit USB Stereo.
Wow seems a good starting point, I unpacked it and plugged it in found my iPod and switched on, as I have said once WOW, my iPod has never sounded better of course I also tested the speaker unit with other music sources.
The Altec Lansing Octiv 650 is 31x20x18cm with power adapter lead inserted in the rear, when in use you see a single blue LED showing through at the top left of the black fabric covering the pair of front facing speakers. Up to four other blue LED’s show when making adjustments using the control buttons on top of the unit. The sound is not just the two speakers but a rather nice bottom mounted sub woofer and you can experiment with this by what surface you place the unit onto.
The first is somewhat unusual in that it is battery operated and stated to give up to 20 hours between charges. The second a far more conventional unit being a pair of speakers requiring mains power, both can have a useful place.
It is 12x6x2cm and weights 218grams. It comes with a mini USB to USB lead to charge its internal battery and this can take several hours. Once charged you can take it anywhere with any device that connects via a 3.5mm lead. So it can be an iPod MP3 player or other device you could even connect it to a notebook should you wish to improve sound. The only connections are on one end being the mini USB socket and the 3.5mm jack.
The days of a household having a single iPod are no more so not only do you need the ability to charge more than one the ability to play the sounds from more than one through speakers is here with this double dock offering from Altec Lansing.
In simple terms the Altec Lansing Octiv 202 is two docks mounted side by side on top of a pair of speakers. However the ability merge playlists is something new and with a downloadable utility you can select what comes from which of the units. The shape is like a quarter of a round cake. It is 27cm across at the front and 3cm at the back. It is 8.5cm tall without whatever iPods inserted in their docks on the top. From front to back it is 14cm.
First a rather nice small but powerful laptop speaker from Altec Lansing called the Orbit USB. Second another offering from Brando in Hong Kong, this time a clip on USB fan or course there is also an extra, quite small but it still very efficient.
While this is described as a notebook speaker I see no reason why it should not be used with a desktop system – in fact I did with one of my tests – as the sound is a lot better than say cheap small speakers often found in a panel. It uses USB sound, so even if your sound card or chip is knackered there is no reason why you should not enjoy wonderful sounds from your PC or Notebook. Indeed some of the recent Netbooks have really nasty sound.
My recently acquired iPod Nano 5th generation got an outing here. However hands up those who remember the ghetto blasters those of a certain age carried on their shoulders that will give you an idea of the size of this interesting product.
The iMT800 from Altec Lansing measures 50x19x20cm at the front narrowing to 36cm at the back. While it is an iPod and iPhone player it does a lot more and has six mighty speakers built in, however it is designed for use on mains power and for good reproduction. For those who long for their ghetto blaster days it can also be run from eight ‘D’ cell batteries.
This is a single unit with a pair of speakers built in to output and charge your iPod or iPhone but it has a plus in that even without the iPod or iPhone attached it is also an FM radio complete of course with its own remote control.
The Altec Lansing inMotion Classic IMT620 measures 31x12x13cm silver grey in colour apart from the front speaker grill that is a black fabric and the iPod dock located between the speakers which is a matching black matt plastic. It can be used on mains or the internal solid battery. The only instructions are on the outside of the box. There is a booklet but this is ‘safety instructions and warranty’ information.
This is a rather nice 2.1speaker system. 2.1 means two satellite speakers and a sub woofer. The speakers could be used with a PC or perhaps more likely as an output from a device such as an iPod or MP3 with a 3.5mm socket.
The satellites are 13.5x12x10cm maximum at the base and the latter is only 3.5cm at the top. The sub woofer is 12x22x26cm but as it is side firing is the 26cm actually the face? The sub woofer is made of wood coloured matt black, it has a silver grey ring round the speaker and the feet are the same colour both are not wood. The satellites are plastic, black in colour with the same silver grey colour for the trim. A 1.5metre mains lead is hard wired into the back of the sub woofer.
First a wireless device great for the energetic that enables them to hear music or phone calls while indulging in exercise. Second a small speaker to enable your iPod, MP3 player or phones content to be heard by all.
Not just another wireless device. This is a set of earbuds with connections behind the ears linked by a wire behind the head. You then place your wireless device phone or whatever away in a pocket and no matter how vigoursly you jog or run the earbuds stay in your ears so no danger of losing your headset as the wire behind your neck holds the earbuds in place. All the controls are on the earpieces so it might be as well to study the manual before you depart so you what to press to control what.
First an offering from Altec Lansing whose two speakers each have their own sub woofers. Second an offering from Gear 4 intended to pep up the output from your iPod of almost any type.
This is a pair of speakers with what amounts to a sub woofer built into the units. So instead of a pair of speakers that require a separate unit to handle the bass these speakers do it without any extra assistance. These can be used with a PC or any other device needing output but they can also be used as out for an MP3 or iPod device. The two speakers are a similar size but the right one has on/off and volume controls on top and all the inputs. The two units are connected by a quite thick lead.
Sometimes you want to listen to your music stored on a portable player without the need of a headset. Altec Lansing offers a solution.
In the past I have made my feelings clear regarding the over-whelming number of audio devices that have been developed to support the various types of iPod units without giving much thought to the many users of MP3 players. Being a fan of MP3 music format myself, I am always on the look out for products that treat both formats on a more or less equal basis. It has to be admitted that this is often a thankless tasks that generally ends in disappointment.
Around a year back I reviewed the original Altec Lansing Orbit. One year on the
design has been revamped and I'm pleased to see that one of my few criticisms has
Despite keeping the circular design and 3xAAA power source the new Orbit - the Altec Lansing iMT237 has had a significant make over from . For a start it's bigger. The diameter of the unit is about the same however an additional 15mm has been added to the height and the tapered cone like appearance is replaced with a squat cylinder. My main criticism of the original orbit was the lack of feedback to know that the unit was powered up - there was none.
Here two items the first a quality speaker that runs of three AAA batteries and the second a headset that enables your phone to remain firmly in your pocket or bag and thus saves you from becoming a target for thieves.
This is a single battery operated circular speaker for anything that has either a 3.5mm or 2.5mm output jack. It is described as a 360 degree speaker and that the battery life is stated to be 24 hours so is ideal for a small group to listen round. While it is likely the 'group' would be young people, I found that in a normal room environment this speaker gave plenty of volume from an MP3 player.
The iM207 is a small stand-alone speaker for those on the move, intended to be plugged into various sound sources - an MP3 player, iPod, your mobile phone or computer for example.
Having recently reviewed the I was interested to see how Altec Lansing served the lower end of the market. Where the iM600 is a top of the range stereo speaker system specifically aimed at the iPod - this time we're looking at a small circular speaker with built in amplifier. To look at the 'Orbit' is fairly simple. From above it's circular with the Altec Lansing logo embedded in the silver speaker grill while from the side it's a squat cone.
The Altec Lansing iM600 joins a growing list of systems that form part of the 'iPod economy' - the
industry that has grown up around the worlds favourite media player.