capsule review

Altec Lansing XT1

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At a Glance
  • Altec Lansing XT1

From a design perspective, the XT1 is a real winner. As for the audio, the midrange is quite good, giving the XT1 more "body" and presence, by far, than any of the other USB-powered speakers we've tested. The bass response is also surprisingly good for portable speakers -- much better than I expected, and probably the best of any truly portable speakers I've heard. And because the XT1 uses two separate speakers, you get much better stereo separation and imaging than with other USB-powered models. Unfortunately, the XT1 suffers from the opposite fate of Creative's Notebook 500: The treble response isn't quite up to snuff. When compared to the Notebook 500, the XT1 seem to be missing a good chunk of the treble; but even when compared to the Tritton Sound Bite, the XT1 is lacking at the high end, resulting in a slightly "muffled" sound. If you're not a fan of treble -- and a lot of people aren't -- you'll likely enjoy the XT1 a great deal. And to be fair, the XT1 are impressive, overall, for USB-powered speakers -- I found them to be the best of those we've tested, by a significant margin, for watching DVDs on my PowerBook. However, those looking for more balanced sound may be turned off by the midrange/bass-heavy presentation and should keep this in mind when shopping; given that the XT1 are the most expensive USB-powered speakers we've seen, a pre-purchase audition is definitely in order.

--Dan Frakes

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At a Glance
  • USB-powered speakers for your laptop

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