The a-JAYS Three rolled out powerful bass notes down to an incredible 16 Hz.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


3 exciting new computer accessories

Dec. 19, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   Your holiday shopping is almost over, and just about everybody has been taken care of -- except for that very special person.
   You know what I mean. It's time to spend a little of that gift-giving largesse on someone important -- yourself.
   (I realize all the moralists in the audience are shaking their heads, but come on. You deserve to treat yourself at least once a year.)
   I have three self-rewarding suggestions. They're each spectacular:
   The Logitech Lapdesk N700. This is a notebook computer lap platform with built-in speakers and fan. It's powered by a cable you connect to one of the laptop's USB ports, and it's got enough power to fill a large room with sound.
   Best of all, the speakers (including a subwoofer) sound gorgeous. I haven't heard such smooth sound since Kelly Clarkson crooned on "American Idol." This thing makes built-in laptop speakers sound puny. You control the sound level from the side of the lapdesk, and both a muting button and a cooling fan on/off button are easy to reach.
   The bottom of the lapdesk is cushy and comfy. Normal-size laptops and smallish netbooks (even my iPad) fit perfectly, but my 17-inch MacBook Pro covered the speakers a bit. Cost: About $65 at discount. More info at www.logitech.com/en-us/904/6449.
   The a-JAYS Three ear buds (earphones). Jays is a Swedish company with a new approach to sound. My first encounter with anything made by Jays is the amazing a-JAYS model Three ear buds, designed to work with portable players (iPhones, iPads, iPods and other such devices) as well as laptop computers. They're designed to shatter the barrier that has always kept ear bud earphones from belting out really low bass sounds.
   And by "low," I mean as low as thunder, as rumbling as organ pedal notes, as fearsome as the roar of a lion and as unnerving as an earthquake. In my tests, the a-JAYS Three rolled out powerful bass notes down to an incredible 16 Hz -- about two octaves below the lowest notes on a bass guitar or bass drum. A good pipe organ recording will make you weep.
   If you like good sound, these buds are for you. $60 at discount. More info at www.jays.se/products/earphones/a-jays-three.html.
   Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD webcam. A webcam is a video camera especially designed for web-based video phone calls and conferencing. Most laptops have one built in, but I haven't seen any built-in webcams as good as this one from Microsoft's hardware division. It can capture true high definition video with great sound.
   Images captured by the Lifecam Cinema HD are always in focus, whether they're right in front of the lens or 100 feet away. You can show your sister-in-law the tiny proof mark on a silver dollar or shoot the crowd at the skating rink, all automatically. Amazingly, the webcam needs no extra light; turn on a reading lamp or two and you get stunning HD video. The Lifecam Cinema HD discounts for $50 to $60. More info at www.microsoft.com/hardware/digitalcommunication/productdetails.aspx?pid=008.