- Review Price: £21.00
Sometimes very odd and unexpected products turn up in our offices here at TrustedReviews and the Saitek PZ09A notebook subwoofer is one of those products. But just because you don’t expect something, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good or in fact, a welcome idea.
The tricky thing here is how to actually review a product such as this, since there is very little to it, and even less to compare it to, but here goes anyway. The device itself is the size of a CD in diameter but it stands about 4cm tall and looks like a classic flying saucer – the kind you see in 50’s Sci-Fi movies. The colour scheme is a mix of silver and blue with a lighter blue cover over the top mounted speaker – but Saitek seems to have forgotten to fit blue LEDs for a full UFO effect.
Unusually for a speaker, the PZ09A actually features controls and we’re not talking a simple on/off switch here. The most useful control is the volume wheel, while there is also a switch to transform this little space ship from a subwoofer into a normal mono speaker. This might seem like an odd feature at first, but it would be very useful on a notebook without integrated speakers, or even one with very poor audio output. The downside is that the PZ09A didn’t sound too great as a mono speaker as it produced a fair amount of distortion with the volume set anywhere above two thirds.
A clever feature is the way the cable is stored. Instead of being a plug in affair, the cable is wound up around the subwoofer much like the string on a yo-yo. However, the length of the cable may be an issue, since it is only 53cm long and 35cm of that is split between the USB connector which powers the amplifier and the 3.5mm audio jack. This means that your options are limited when it comes to where you can place the subwoofer in relation to your laptop, and if your audio and USB connectors are poles apart, you may find it hard to connect the PZ09A comfortably.
In use as a subwoofer the PZ09A does make a world of difference to the sound from a notebook, although it works best with machines that have a dedicated subwoofer output, which means that you really need a notebook capable of 5.1-channel audio. Having tested the PZ09A on several notebooks in our labs and even a desktop PC, it was quite clear that when it was connected to a laptop that sends the whole stereo signal, you end up with distorted sound reproduction if you crank the volume up.
There are of course other factors that play a part, such as the type of audio that is being played, while the sound chip in your notebook will also have some impact on the audio output quality. But where the PZ09A will really have an impact is if you use your laptop to watch movies, since this is where a lack of bass is most obvious.
With an effective output of 2W the PZ09A won’t make the floor shake, but considering that it only costs £20.98 inc VAT you wouldn’t expect it to. Overall the PZ09A is yet another gadget, but one that actually serves a purpose and a useful one at that. One word of warning though, the speaker is not magnetically shielded, so be careful what you put next to it.
The Saitek PZ09A is a one of a kind product, and one that serves a specific purpose. If you crave fuller sound from your notebook when listening to music or watching movies, this is one alien space craft that deserves investigation.
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