Road warriors who want to improve the sound of their laptop speakers have several choices to select from, including Altec's Orbit speaker and various other portable PC speakers; however, many of these can be a bit bulky, and aren't the easiest with which to travel.
The Philips SPA5210B is a little different from most of its competitors in that it's a sound-bar-style speaker that clips on to the top of a laptop screen--it can also sit on a table, if you'd prefer. It includes a clip-on mechanism with a hand-screw on its back that lets you tighten the fit when securing it to a variety of laptop screens, including Netbooks. We also like how you can wrap its integrated USB cable--which powers the sound bar--around the speaker in a groove and tuck it away into the bottom when traveling. The integrated USB cable measures 20 inches long, which gives you enough cord to run from the top of virtually all laptop displays to a USB port in the back or side of the machine.
The speaker comes with a carrying pouch, and Philips designed it to be stowed in the side pocket of a laptop bag. At 11 inches wide by about 2 inches tall by about 1 inch deep and weighing 7.8 ounces, it may not be quite as small as the Orbit, but it gets high marks for portability. What is also good is that the USB cable handles audio and power, which helps cut down on the cord clutter and eliminates the need for batteries.
The downside to a USB-powered device is that it has to plug into a USB port, and you can't plug in other audio devices, such as an iPod or iPhone, so this sound bar is strictly for laptop use.
As far as the its audio quality goes, as you might expect from a speaker this slim, it's not exactly rich in the bass department; even if the box it comes in says it is. However, that doesn't mean it's totally lacking bass, but we found the speaker's overall sound to be underwhelming with music and preferred using the speaker for augmenting the soundtracks when watching videos.