Edifier MP300 Plus
Edifier is a Canadian-based company that makes a variety of PC speaker systems that feature unique, funky designs. The company seems to have good distribution internationally, but U.S. customers may have a hard time finding Edifier's products in brick-and-mortar or online stores. In the case of the Edifier MP300 Plus, that's too bad, because it's a good little PC speaker system that's designed to be combined with laptops--and it's affordable, too.
The system comes with two small, ball-shaped satellite speakers and a tubular subwoofer. The idea is that you stick the sub behind your laptop and the bass fires out from the sides of the tube. Previously, Edifier made the MP300, and while the two systems appear to be very similar, there are some small differences. The MP300 Plus comes in black (instead of silver), has wire-mesh grille covers for the satellites, and sports a more powerful 15-watt subwoofer.
As far as connectivity goes, the satellites attach to the sub via a proprietary cable, and there's a single line-in input on the sub that allows you to connect either your PC or an audio device to the speakers (a short 3.5mm cable is included). It would be nice if the MP300 Plus could be powered by a USB connection, but the sub seems to require a bit more power, so this model uses a standard 12V AC adapter. While Edifier markets the MP300Plus as a "portable audio system," the product lacks a carrying case, despite claims to the contrary on the company Web site.
What's interesting about the MP300 Plus is that it sounds quite good if you're sitting right next to your computer (and, obviously, the speakers). The bass from the sub comes through nicely and the satellites offer enough detail to make you think you're listening to a bigger speaker system. However, when you move your chair back just a few feet back, the sound degrades considerably (read: it gets much thinner). The effect is similar to pulling a set of over-the-ear headphones away from your ears by a half an inch or so and losing the seal.
So, that's the deal. This is a cool-looking, affordable, little PC speaker system that sounds quite good at close range, but we wouldn't recommend it if you're hoping to fill a small room with sound. Yes, it's designed for laptops, but you could also use it with desktops (you'd just place the sub either in front of or behind your monitor). Just stay close to your computer and you'll be happy.