Built-in laptop speakers suck. Even the best we’ve tested barely manage to cough up enough volume for the occasional YouTube video, much less playing real music with any appreciable volume. And getting even a murmur of bass? Forget about it.
Asus, a company not unfamiliar with the notebook sound issue, has its own take on a solution. Rather than launching the typical pair of bland desktop stereo speakers, the company took a cue from recent trends in the home theater world in introducing the uBoom – a pair of aftermarket notebook speakers packaged neatly into a soundbar.
As the name suggests, the uBoom takes on a stick-like form factor with dual two-inch drivers mounted in nozzle-like enclosures at each end. A separate 2.5-inch subwoofer makes itself at home in the center. To make the uBoom double as a notebook dock, its full aluminum enclosure has a shelf-like edge to prop up a notebook on when it’s in use. Since it delivers a full 24 watts RMS, the uBoom requires its own 12V DC power supply. A smaller version of the uBoom, the uBoom Q, will tap the notebook itself for power using only a USB connection. Both use USB connections (rather than analog jacks) for audio data, allowing them to pull 2.1-channel sound from a notebook regardless of its sound outputs, and effectively replacing a notebook’s onboard sound processing. Auxiliary analog inputs also make it possible to connect non-notebook sources (like MP3 players), and the full-size uBoom even has a built-in microphone.
At 6.6 pounds and 23.4 inches long, the uBoom could hardly be called portable, but the uBoom Q, which weighs less than a pound, certainly fits that description. Asus has formally announced both models, but they still lack ship dates and prices. More information is available directly from Asus.