Philips' CushionSpeaker, which is similar in concept to the Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N700 we've also reviewed today, looks to combine the company's audio product experience with an always useful mini-desk to save your lap from the toasting heat of your laptop.
In comparison to the Logitech, however, the CushionSpeaker goes about things in quite a different way. It's around two-thirds the width of the Logitech offering, which makes it a good deal lighter and less unwieldy. This is thanks to the integrated speakers being at the front, instead of sitting either side of the laptop. There's no fan cooling, either, which significantly reduces the complexity of the design. Philips makes no specific claims about the size of laptop it can deal with, but anything up to 15in should be okay.
A USB cable retracts from the rear of the unit and is used to power the two speakers. While the CushionSpeaker doesn't quite match the Logitech in terms of clarity and power, it still produces remarkably clear and well-defined audio at impressive volumes. Pushing the volume up too far does result in some distortion, but at realistic volumes we didn't detect any major problems and they're definitely an upgrade from most laptop speakers.
As the name suggests, the underside of the CushionSpeaker is simply a large, bean bag-like cushion. This is somewhat sculpted and it's certainly very cushy, but it doesn't quite offer the ergonomic comfort of Logitech's Lapdesk - lacking, as it does, the natural incline that makes the latter so comfortable to use.
Another problem is the slightly slippery glossed top-surface. To an extent, its effectiveness is governed by the size and quality of the feet on your laptop, but it didn't hold our test laptop (a Dell XPS M1330) as firmly as we'd like. This was a particular problem when using it in bed, since any movement inevitably led to the laptop falling off the back or sliding forward.
We don't think these issues are deal-breakers, though, and on the whole the CushionSpeaker does what it's supposed to do very well. Its compactness and portability, in comparison to the Logitech Speaker Lapdesk, is also a real advantage. Unfortunately, it's currently only available at Philips' online store for an extremely pricey £59.99 and that, we feel, is a deal-breaker. We've been reliably informed it should be making its way to online retailers soon, so hopefully that might result in some more realistic prices.
There's plenty going for the Philips CushionSpeaker; it's light-weight, very comfy and produces decent audio. Unfortunately it needs to be £20 cheaper before it's worth serious consideration.