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We take Altec's new USB Orbit speaker for a spin

While its $50 list price is high, Altec Lansing's Orbit USB iML237 portable speaker is an attractive option for laptop users who want a compact travel speaker that outperforms their internal laptop speakers.

Altec Lansing

To date, Altec Lansing's little portable Orbit speaker has come in a few different colors and designs. The latest offering, the Orbit USB ($49.95), offers USB connectivity so you can conveniently plug it into your laptop.

In going to USB, the overall design of the speaker hasn't really changed (though we do prefer the black finish), but Altec has added a flip-out kickstand to the bottom, so you can prop it up at a 45-degree angle. Previously, the speaker fired upward or you could stand it up on its side, though not an angle. The kickstand is definitely a nice bonus and it appears to slightly improve the sound quality by having the speaker fire in a more optimal direction.

Earlier Orbits were battery powered, but the iML237 has no battery option; you must plug the USB cable into a computer for power. It's also worth noting that with other Orbits you had the option of using the integrated 3.5 millimeter plug to connect to a computer's speaker port or directly to an MP3 player or other device with an audio output. However, this model, as we said, is only designed for use with a computer.

So, how does it sound?

Read the full review of Altec Lansing's Orbit USB iML237 to find out.