Sweex, purveyor of all things budget, has just sent us a set of its latest speakers. Imaginatively titled 'USB Speaker Set 120 Watt', these babies look dull as dull can be. It's almost as if Sweex sent a hoard of homeless urchins to recover the abandoned speakers that once accompanied our long-recycled pre-Pentium computers. And then painted them black. (The speakers, not the urchins.)
It's not all bad news, though. The imaginatively designed Sweex logo keeps them just the right side of dreary, and they're actually much cleverer than they first seem. As their name implies, the USB Speaker Set 120 Watt connects to your PC or laptop via a USB port, and curiously, it doesn't need an external power supply or even a sound card.
There's a sound chip built into the right (or possibly left channel, they're not labelled) so they're ready to start making sound straight away. We tried them out and they worked flawlessly. They don't have an internal amplifier, or a volume control knob, but their sound quality was quite impressive for such a small and unassuming-looking set of speakers. We fired up some tracks by the late, great Proof and the semi-balanced audio reproduction had us nodding our heads in no time.
We were a little pessimistic about just how useful the speakers are, especially since 99.43 per cent of PCs already come with a sound card, but ironically we managed to track down the other 0.57 per cent -- a friend who had somehow managed to destroy hers in a freak accident during a routine upgrade. Evidence, if ever we needed it, that Sweex is onto a definite winner.
The USB Speaker Set 120 Watt is available from the Sweex Web site for around £14. -RR