As more consumers use their laptops as a secondary (and sometimes, primary) home entertainment center where they listen to music, play games, and watch TV and movies, they're often lacking one thing: a quality sound system. The average set of laptop speakers isn't designed to amplify home-theater-quality audio and some machines make it almost impossible to watch video without headphones. If you've ever tried watching Hulu on a MacBook, you know exactly what we're talking about.
The new $80 Logitech Lapdesk N700 wants to break through that sound barrier. In addition to a cooling fan and cushiony undercarriage for comfort, it also includes two speakers embedded into the top surface. The lapdesk connects to your computer via USB and is powered by your machine; no need for batteries or any additional wires to keep the thing going.
Of course, that means you run the risk of draining your laptop faster (which should be OK, since this is primarily designed for home use). Logitech says the desk is "plug and play," and it should be for PC laptops, but we actually had to fiddle with the sound settings on our MacBook to get everything up and running (go into System Preferences>Sound>Output and select the N700 instead of the MacBook's internal speakers).
Once the connection is made, the speakers were loud and clear, if a little on the bright side. There are volume and mute controls on the lapdesk, along with an on/off switch for the fan.
The Lapdesk N700 can securely hold laptops up to 16 inches (by way of two flip-up rubber holders mounted on the desk) and will be available starting in February.