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While it's fair to say that there is a vast number of products that give style far greater priority than substance, it would be churlish to dismiss any product that has an interesting design as rubbish - as the Ferguson Hill FH007 and FH008 speakers demonstrated with aplomb.
As such, while it would be hard to dismiss the suggestion that the Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra 2.1-channel speaker system has been created to look, rather than sound, striking, such an assumption isn't necessarily accurate. No, just because they probably wouldn't look out of place installed in the Tate Modern - which I don't necessarily mean as a compliment - doesn't mean you should discount the worthiness of a set of Expressionist Ultra speakers hooked up to your PC, TV or games console.
The real problem with the design, is that it's, well, a bit naff to be frank. For a start the sub woofer is huge beyond necessity. You only have to look at rival 2.1-channel systems such as the Razer Mako or Creative GigaWorks T3 speakers to see that it's entirely possible for a small-ish sub to pump out decent bass - and without looking like a monument to Tutankhamun. The satellites aren't much better, either. The smoked plastic surrounds don't really scream quality and the glossy black casing for the mid-range driver means the units take up a fair bit of space.
So far, so subjective and I'm not so arrogant as to think that my opinion will be shared by everyone, In fact I'm sure more than a couple of you are looking at the pictures and wondering how I could be so blind. Alas, there are some more fundamental issues.
The foremost of these is the number of inputs on offer. Or rather, input. The rear of the subwoofer houses - aside from connection points for the system's controller and the left and right satellites - a single 3.5mm jack. There is, at least, a converter included to change a pair of phono connectors into a 3.5mm mini-jack but when both the T3s and Makos offer two inputs, it's rather miserly of Altec Lansing not to do likewise.