Did you know that laptops—from high-powered "desktop replacements" to tiny netbooks that can fit in a handbag—now outsell desktop machines? That's great except for one thing: the toy speakers that makers are forced to use in most laptops and especially netbooks to fit ever-tighter space requirements. Listening via headphones is fine but when you want to take the headphones off or just share your music with others it's like you're listening to your music over an intercom.
Of course we wouldn't have mentioned the problem if we didn't have a great solution in the form of the Interlink Electronics VP3610 USB Notebook Audio Station. It's a multipurpose cradle that can hold a laptop that weighs up to 15 pounds (seven kilograms).
You may find it spoils you. First, it holds your machine at a perfect 26 degree angle that you'll probably find makes typing much easier whether you hunt and peck or touch type.
But of course it's in the audio department that your VP3610 really shines. In these days of 100 watt per channel home surround systems, two four-watt speakers may seem awfully modest but check the specs on your notebook's or netbook's speakers. A half watt apiece isn't uncommon. If that describes your machine, the VP3610 will octuple your audio power!
It gets even better. You plug your VP3610 into one of your machine's USB ports but the VP3610 has its own three-port USB hub for a net gain of two more open USB ports. It can draw power from the USB connection to your machine alone, but if you plug a couple of demanding devices (DVD or external hard drives, for example) into those USB ports you may need to use the included AC adapter to ensure you have enough juice to power it all.
To round out its audio capabilities the stand has both audio line-in and headphone jacks. And it's both Macintosh and Windows compatible. Best of all there are no drivers to install. With its Plug-and-Play capability you just hook it up to your machine and you're stylin' in stereo.
Sure your VP3610's audio output can't match your multi-hundred dollar home theater. But for a tiny fraction of the price you paid for that, you have sound that's a heckuva lot better than the soup-can-on-a-string sound you're used to getting out of your laptop.