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Sound systems for screens large and small

By Mark Baard
May 9, 2011

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SPEAKERS
Now that you know the science fiction TV show “Fringe’’ has been renewed for another season, it is time to acquire speakers that will ensure you won’t miss the crackling and warbling of a vortex opening between two universes.

For Hulu watchers and their laptops, I suggest taking a look at the Orbit USB Stereo from Altec Lansing LLC.

I have been familiar with Altec Lansing since I was a kid, writing for a magazine about the monster sound systems people install in theaters and ballrooms. Its computer speakers often appear to be as heavy-duty as the gear hanging from ceiling tracks at rock concerts — even if they are sized for desktops and backpacks.

The Orbit USB Stereo has two USB-powered speakers (no power cord or batteries required) that look like the Fresnel lights you will see in television and film studios, but without the barn doors.

The speakers have gray and black finishes and their faces have a riveted appearance.

The Orbit USB Stereo speakers also have kickstands, and a USB cord that curls into the back of one of the two speakers.

The speakers themselves are connected by a single cable, a more convenient setup than having to fish in your bag for two separate pieces, and will cost you only about $50.

If you prefer to watch your sci-fi on a bigger screen, Boston Acoustics Inc. has a new “soundbar’’ speaker and subwoofer system that promises an experience of real, or simulated, digital surround sound (depending on the content you’re playing).

The sleek, black, 150-watt TVee Model 25 (about $350) has a switch to optimize its performance based on where you place the main speaker bar, either mounted on the wall or on a cabinet.

The subwoofer is wireless, and can be placed anywhere in the room.

The Boston Acoustics speaker system also has an auxiliary input jack for plugging in your mobile music players.

Boston Acoustics says the TVee Model 25 is sized for television sets that are 32 inches or larger.

Ergonomics

Computer backlighting strip promises to reduce eyestrain

I have been looking at television and computer screens for a long time, and I feel as if I have tried every screen, filter, technique, and exercise aimed at saving my eyeballs. That does not mean I won’t try the latest gadget for reducing eyestrain, from Antec Inc. Fortunately enough, it is available for $13.

The Soundscience Halo 6 LED Lighting Kit is a lighting strip that creates a steady source of distracting light against the wall behind your computer screen.

You simply tack the strip, which resembles the track lighting that lines the floor between rows of seats in a movie theater, to the back of your screen.

The strip’s white LED lights create a ring of backlight that reduces the eyestrain caused by changes in picture brightness between scenes in movies, shows, and video games, according to Antec.

The Soundscience strip, which is USB-powered, is about 15 inches long, and is suitable for use with computer screens up to 24 inches wide.