Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 7: More Mobile Stuff

Logitech mm28 Portable Speakers

Ahem, that's the Logitech mm28 over by the laptop.

Anyone who's worked with multiple notebooks knows that not all of them come endowed with killer loudspeakers. In fact, some have speakers that it would be hard to even call "capable" - including several so-called Media Center Notebook PCs we've reviewed in the past year. With its mm28 portable speaker system, Logitech provides a pretty good antidote for the blahs that some built-in speakers deliver. It also offers nice ambient sound output from MP3 or other portable audio devices - anything with a headphone jack, in fact.

With dimensions of 13.0" x 4.0" x 1.2" (330 mm x 101 mm x 30.5 mm), the mm28 speaker setup isn't exactly tiny, but it will certainly fit in a notebook bag without straining its storage capacity. The secret to its flat profile is its use of NXT flat speaker technology, enabling it to pack two full-sized speaker panels next to one another in a single compact container.

The unit includes no carrying case, but a foldover cover doubles as a stand when you use it for playback, while covering the speaker elements when it's packed up and ready to travel. At 4 pounds (1.81 kg) it's not a featherweight component, but still remains within the realm of luggability. The mm28 runs off 4AA batteries, with a rated battery life of 45 hours; it can also use its own AC adapter when a wall socket is available.

Of course, speakers are ultimately about the sound they produce, and this is where the mm28 comes into its own. The unit lacks a volume control, so you must set the volume on the input device to control actual sound output; this can be a problem when pushing portable players or radios to the top of their volume ranges, with fuzz and distortion the result. The unit can crank out lots of sound, however, and easily overpowers the built-in speaker rigs of most notebooks. In our experience, only the Toshiba Qosmio G35 and the HP dv9000 notebooks offer built-in sound on a part with this speaker rig, and those models cost $2,000 or more.

The only other beef we had with the mm28 was its short headphone cable, which is less than 15" long, but you can pick up an extension cable at Radio Shack if you need one for under $5, so that's no huge deal. At an MSRP of $59.99 (with deals under $40 available from online retailers) this is a nice gift for somebody who likes to travel with their music, and listen to it on speakers rather than headphones.

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