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December 13, 2003

Speakers for my laptop: the Creature saves me

Over the last few months, I've spent a lot of nights in a extended stay hotel here in Pasadena in service of my job with Earthlink in Pasadena. (The family is still in Atlanta.)

The arrangement has been a mixed bag in the entertainment department. I've been to more movies than usual. I brought books by the hundred-pound. But without our Tivo and HBO, I've missed some of my favorite shows.

I've also been musically impoverished. I do have a laptop with some music on it; I even have a pretty nice pair of Grado headphones. But headphones share the twin disadvantages of tying you to the laptop, and in the case of the Grados, some discomfort.

So I've been looking for a set of speakers that I could plug into the laptop. A few months back when I was in Atlanta, I bought a setup from Logitech that was pretty good. I was going to buy the same speakers again for the laptop, but the particular model I bought seems to have been discontinued.

I looked at various reviews, and I went to the local Best Buy to listen to some of the choices. The night I went, their lineup of demo speakers was out of commission, but I went ahead and picked up the Altec Lansing VS4121, which had been fairly well reviewed. But I was disappointed when I got them back to the hotel. Even sitting right in front of them, the sounded weak and tinny, not even as good as the cheaper Logitechs to me. (A strong caveat: I have a pretty serious high-frequency hearing loss from a childhood infection, so I may not be the best judge.) I took the Altecs back and kept looking.

At CompUSA, I ran across the JBL Creature. The Creature is unusual looking: the subwoofer and the two satellites do indeed remind you a mama critter and two little twin critters. (You've probably seen them with a Mac; the funky design fits in better with the curves of the Mac.) The gotcha was the price - I was hoping to pay no more than $75-100, and CompUSA wanted $130 for the Creature.

Amazon to the rescue. Amazon had the Creature for $83. It arrived this week. The three pods are lovely to listen to and to look at. The sound good when you sit right in front of them, but just as important, they sound decent when I walk around. I'm very happy with them.