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HolidayBuyer's Guide

JLab B-Flex review:

JLab B-Flex

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The Good Compact; better sounding than most built-in laptop speakers; connects via USB.

The Bad Poor bass response; limited stereo separation.

The Bottom Line For emergency audio needs or casual background music, the JLab B-Flex Hi-Fi USB Speaker is worth adding to your travel bag--yet audiophiles don't need us to tell them what to expect from a 2-watt speaker system.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 5.0

A high-end desktop-replacement laptop, such as the Fujitsu N6420, often comes with a decent set of built-in stereo speakers. But for those of us who use smaller laptops, speaker quality can run the gamut from rotary telephone to transistor radio.

Of course, you can hook up your laptop to a giant set of 5.1 speakers, such as the Logitech Z-5450 or even consider a basic 2.0 speaker setup, but that's not a solution we'd call portable. The JLab B-Flex Hi-Fi USB Speaker is a compact set of stereo speakers attached to a 7-inch gooseneck cord that plugs into a laptop USB port. These speakers won't rattle the windows, but for under $40, they're a good way to add a little oomph to DVDs, MP3s, and even business presentations with audio.

Two tiny paper-cone speakers are housed in a plastic oval case measuring 3.25 inches wide by 1.25 inches deep. The pocket-sized B-Flex speaker is small enough to fit in a laptop case, although the speaker's rounded back isn't the most space-efficient design.

The B-Flex gets both power and audio through a USB port, bypassing a laptop's microphone jack. The USB plug sits at the end of the metal gooseneck cord, which can be twisted in any direction to peek out from behind the laptop's lid if you're using a rear USB port.

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