Many people watch movies on their laptops. Students, frequent fliers and those who proudly wear their "I don't own a TV" badge often rely on them for their main injection of cinematic entertainment. However, laptops' built-in speakers are, almost without exception, rubbish. The Edifier Soundbar is here to make those explosions sound like they should, rather than like fizzy little farts.
The Edifier Soundbar plugs into a laptop's USB port, taking over from the internal speakers and sucking out a small 500mA charge from the battery in the process. Behind its grille are four 1.25in speakers - two for each of stereo's channels. They may be dinky, but they can push out a lot more volume than any laptop speaker we've heard.
The unit's first impressions are great. For a £40 gadget, the build of the soundbar is excellent. Its body is a curved wedge of metal, with an equally-tough metal speaker grille on the front. The sides are plastic, but it’s a hefty - although not all that heavy - stick that feels as though it could take some punishment. A bit like a nu-wave Cluedo murder weapon.
The miniUSB connector sits on the left edge of the bar, next to the 3.5mm jack input. The jack isn't required if you're using a PC, but it allows you to connect the Edifier Soundbar to other sources, such as a MP3 or CD player. You'll still need a USB port to power the speakers though.
On the other edge is the device's one control button. This changes volume, but it's not the rotary dial you might assume. Instead, quick taps on this button turn the volume up, while an extended press turns the volume down.
The Edifier Soundbar is designed to sit in the space between the keyboard and the screen. As such, it won't be able to fit happily onto most netbooks but has no problems with laptops of 13in screens and above. As long as there's a gap of around 4.5cm for the bar to sit in, you'll be fine. Alternatively, you can place it in front of the laptop, but this is not hugely comfortable if you're going to type on the laptop's keyboard at the same time.
There's also the question of colour. Not all laptops are black, but masses of them are - and this makes the Edifier Soundbar stick out a little too much for our liking. We don't know of any plans to ship out an all-black edition of this speaker system, but it strikes us as a good idea.