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Altec Lansing Orbit USB iML237CLR (black) review: Altec Lansing Orbit USB iML237CLR (black)

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The Good Compact and attractively designed; comes with a protective carrying case; produces better sound than most laptop speakers; has an integrated USB cable and a flip-out kickstand for propping the speaker up at a 45-degree angle.

The Bad More expensive than the previous Orbit; no volume control on the speaker; distorts at higher volumes; can only be used with computers.

The Bottom Line While its $50 list price is high, the Orbit USB iML237 portable speaker is an attractive option for laptop users who want a compact travel speaker that outperforms their internal laptop speakers.

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6.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6

To date, Altec Lansing's little portable Orbit speaker have come in a few different colors and designs. The latest offering, the Orbit USB, 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 of the unit, 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 computer use.

While not minuscule, the speaker is fairly small: it measures 3.4 inches in diameter, is 2 inches deep, and weighs 5.76 ounces. Like the silver iM237, this model comes with a neoprene carrying case (it looks better in black, too) that should protect the speaker from short falls or sharp objects in your laptop bag.

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