Laptops (and netbooks) are ideal computing solutions for those of us on the
move, and while we love taking our portable workstations along for the ride, the
'luxury' of having an appropriate surface at the ready can't be overstated.
Our legs and laps might do in a jiffy, but the dangers of exposure to extended
heat (lovingly called 'toasted skin syndrome') make them, at best, a short-term
solution. While by no means perfect, Logitech's Speaker Lapdesk N550
model may be just the thing those with smaller machines have been looking for.
If you’re at all familiar with its bigger, bulker
N700 model than you might know what to expect from this trimmed down model,
although it does lose a few things in the process; size, features, and, of
course, just a bit (but probably not enough)off the N700’s heftier price-tag. The design remains relatively simple, and measures
(roughly) 17” across and 10” deep, which makes it ideal for smaller laptops and
netbooks, but not much else. Logitech recommends machines with 14” screens
or smaller, and you won’t hear any disagreements from me. My personal
laptop, a 15” Acer I always felt was a bit on the puny side, looked gargantuan
when sitting on top of it, and you might as well forget about using external
mice with one.
Rubber volume control buttons (up/down/mute) are
located on the right-hand side, and a perfectly long (just over 12”) USB cord
makes connecting it to a free USB 2.0 slot on your machine simple. Two
rubber slats at the base can flip up to hold your machine in place, which is
nice if you plan on making use of its slight incline tilt, which Logitech says
is a full 10 degrees. While not as noticeable as the larger N700, its
smaller scale makes sense given its built for smaller machines, and at just over
2 lbs. it fits rather snuggly wherever it’s placed, so you won’t have to worry
about it slipping or sliding off your lap if that’s where you intend to use it
The bottom of the unit is covered with an extremely
comfortable air-mesh fabric that has an attractive knitted look, which means you
won’t have to worry about scratching gentles services and felt great on my legs.
This is actually one-half of the Lapdesk’s real function, as the combo-function
of comfy meshed fabric coupled with its heat-shielded casing helps shield
(naturally) your real lap from excessive heat and warmth.
Unfortunately, the N550 lacks the built-in cooling
fan (and fan controls, naturally) from its N700 bigger brother. So while
it’ll protect your most sensitive bits from your computer’s heat, it probably
won’t protect it from itself. Then again, if you’re still using a portable
furnace masquerading as a laptop, then you probably have more pressing issues
than anything a simple mobile table can help you with.
With the word speaker in the title, you’d better
believe there’s a sound system somewhere in the Lapdesk, although you shouldn’t
expect anything more than a modest improvement over whatever you’re using
already. With its 2 watts of power, I was surprised to hear actual bass
rumbling through its speakers (located at the top left and right corners), and
the bump in volume was appreciable when I ran my music and movie collection
through it. Again, it’s nothing that’ll have the neighbors calling the
police, and just watch your battery power’s meter drain like sand in an
hourglass; those 2 watts won’t power themselves, you know.
Smaller and less featured-packed than its pricier N7000 cousin, Logitech's
Speaker Lapdesk N550 model is pretty much exactly what its name
implies, as it provides protection from your laptop/netbook's heat, while
slightly improving the sound output through its set of 2 watt speakers. With its
smaller base and suggested screen size topping out at 14" models, those with
bigger machines should probably seek their heat-protection elsewhere. Its
comfortable air-mesh polyester fabric does make using one long-term a pleasant
alternative to the dangers of 'toasted skin syndrome', although its still a bit
expensive for what's essentially little more than a modest sound system /