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Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

Despite the term, most “laptops” these days are not built to use on your lap for any period of time. This is mainly due to the tremendous amount of heat many laptops now generate. However, a recent Logitech survey revealed that nearly 60% of home laptop owners use them on the couch and 36% use a laptop on the bed. For anyone using a laptop in these situations, a heat-dissipating pad is almost a must.

Also, in this age of digital media, many people are using their laptops to listen to music, play games, and watch movies, video, or even TV. However, the speakers of most laptops do not provide high-quality sound, especially at high volume. To meet the needs of laptop users looking to use their laptops comfortably while away from a desktop and get quality audio, Logitech introduced the Speaker Lapdesk N700 this past February. This all-in-one laptop accessory sports integrated stereo speakers, a built-in fan, and a padded base.

Easy Setup

The Lapdesk N700 is extremely easy to use and is truly “plug and play.” All you need to do is plug the integrated USB cable into your laptop and you are ready to roll. There is no software to install and your system should identify the Lapdesk once you plug in the USB cable. If you do not hear audio from the Lapdesk, you will want to make sure that audio playback is assigned to the Lapdesk.

The USB cable also draws power from your laptop to run the Lapdesk’s built-in fan. This means the Lapdesk is just as mobile as a laptop without being tethered to power cords. According to the battery life monitor I have installed on my laptop, the N700 didn’t have an appreciable impact on battery life after I hooked it up.

The Lapdesk also has on-board volume controls and an on/off switch for the fan.

According to Logitech, the N700 is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7, as well as Mac OS.

Enhanced Audio

Even on those systems with advanced audio capabilities, laptop speakers are generally not designed to produce high-quality audio. This is especially evident when listening to audio with high levels of bass and at high volume. Lapdesk’s two integrated speakers have two-inch drivers, which offer full stereo sound. The vented chambers in the back of the Lapdesk separate and channel low-range frequencies, delivering cleaner bass.

According to Logitech, the N700 is optimized for laptops up to 16 inches so that the speakers are not covered by the laptop itself. My 15.3-inches wide Dell XPS laptop fit perfectly between the two speakers.

Even when turned up all the way, I didn’t experience any sound distortion—which is common for smaller speakers such as these. While I certainly wouldn’t classify the experience as home theater quality, there is no doubt that the Lapdesk provides a significant upgrade from my on-board laptop speakers.

Comfort

The Speaker Lapdesk N700 has a cushioned, mesh-covered base, which rests comfortably on your lap. My laptop fit securely on the Lapdesk as flip-up rubber tabs kept it from sliding forward or side-to-side. The Lapdesk raises your computer about 10 degrees, which relieves some of the neck strain from staring down at the screen for extended periods of time.

I was surprised by the heft of the Lapdesk. It is definitely not a flimsy thing, but it is also not something you would travel with.

While I never use an external mouse with a laptop, I know many people do. If you are one of those who forgo the touchpad for a mouse, you will probably be disappointed by a lack of mouse space. Logitech’s Portable Lapdesk N315 comes with a slide-out mousing area and it would be interesting to see if Logitech could integrate such a feature in a future version of the N700.

Cooling

To test the cooling capabilities of the N700, I installed a utility on my laptop that measured its internal temperature. I then turned the laptop on and began playing music I have stored on my hard drive. After roughly 30 minutes of use, the maximum temperature over the period was 151 degrees Fahrenheit. I then attached the laptop to the N700 and turned on the fan. Over the next 30 minutes, using similar computing resources, the temperature ran about 10% lower.

Even with the fan off, the design of the Lapdesk creates a gap between the pad and your lap. Furthermore, the cushioned pad provides additional insulation.

The fan also doesn’t detract from the listening experience. While it is not completely silent, the fan is quieter than my laptop’s internal cooling fan.

The Bottom Line

As someone who uses my laptop throughout my house, I have been using the Logitech Speaker Lapdesk a lot. The improvement in sound quality has made watching movies and TV shows over Netflix and Hulu much more enjoyable. I use it lying down or sitting, and can do so for hours without a problem. The only real problem I have with it is figuring out where to put it when I am not using it.

At $80, the N700 is more expensive than the typical lapdesk. However, having used several of these over the years, the N700 is by far the most comfortable. The biggest benefit, which I think makes the N700 more than worth its price, is the significant upgrade in sound quality you gain over your laptop speakers.

Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700

www.logitech.com

$79.99

Pros

  • Plug and play
  • Comfortable
  • Better sound than built-in laptop speakers

Cons

  • Bulky
  • No mousing space
  • Not for those seeking home theater quality sound
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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