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Harman Kardon SoundSticks III review: Bright lights, big sound

The $170 SoundSticks III speakers offer light cosmetic upgrades (and unfortunately retain a few irritations) from the previous model, but if you're a fan of the iridescent design, this speaker system won't disappoint.

Now playing: Watch this: Harman/Kardon SoundSticks III

The first version of the Harman Kardon SoundSticks came out around the same time as the translucent iMac G3, and there's a reason why they look so similar: both were designed by Apple's lead designer, Jonathan Ive.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are three parts to this PC speaker system: dual 10-watt satellite speakers and a 20-watt subwoofer that sits on the floor.

But even though Apple has since moved away from the see-through design, Harman Kardon retains the clear plastic transparency across the board, this time lowering the intensity of the internal blue lights so they aren't quite as distracting as in the previous models.

Despite some design shortcomings, the SoundSticks continue to draw attention because of their excellent sound. The 2.1 speakers resist distortion even at loud volumes, and our test tracks came across clear and balanced despite a limited frequency response range.

With little to complain about regarding audio, we recommend the SoundSticks to anyone looking to upgrade a PC's speakers.

Check out our full review of the Harman Kardon SoundSticks III.