Logitech creates a middling notebook stand with audio. (November 14th, 2010)
The Logitech Speaker Lapdesk N550 is one of those rare accessories that actually solves several issues with a single device; it provides both desktop speaker sound for your notebook as well as a solution for preventing your legs from getting burnt. Our N550 review will see how well it achieves both goals and catch any design issues along the way.
Product Manufacturer: Logitech
- Good angle for usability.
- Comfortable but stays cool.
- Good sound with small notebooks or no notebook at all.
- 14-inch notebooks block the speaker grilles.
- Slightly expensive for a notebook lapdesk.
- Not especially mobile.
Design and features
The N550 has a very durable feeling plastic construction and has rubberized contact points for the notebook to sit on. The bottom of the N550 is covered in an air-mesh fabric and some soft padding; the air-mesh fabric is very similar to the fabric used for athletic shorts and is meant to avoid trapping heat. There are also a set of bumpers at that fold up from the bottom of the N550 to ensure your notebook doesn't slide off of the Lapdesk.
A short USB cable protrudes from the back of the N550 to provide audio connectivity from your notebook to the speakers on the Lapdesk. This keeps the connection simple, but it does complicate things for some users: you may need to close and reopen any sound-driven apps when connecting or disconnecting the N550 from a computer. On the right side of the Lapdesk are a set of volume controls and a mute button.
Sound quality and user experience
Logitech says that the N550 is designed for notebooks with a diagonal screen size of 14 inches and smaller. We tested the N550 with a 14.1-inch Dell Latitude D Series and found that it fit just fine on the device, but blocked the speakers; the sound became very muddled. With the Dell off of the Lapdesk, the speakers sounded like a respectable pair of $30 desktop computer speakers, but then we weren't using it properly in that circumstance, either. We suspect the design had been designed around the 13-inch MacBook Pro and other considerably smaller designs.
As far as its role as a work surface is concerned, the N550 is enjoyable to type with as it creates an ideal angle for wrist comfort. In addition to the angle the N550 creates, the air-mesh fabric on the bottom of the device worked like a charm and kept our legs cool. That said, we also found that the notebook experience became much less mobile when using the Lapdesk. The Lapdesk isn't a device that could accompany your notebook in your briefcase or backpack, and it also adds a few pounds of weight to the device in your lap that already weighs four pounds or more. Logitech hasn't made any claims beyond the home, but it's important to note.
We would be more positive about the N550 if Logitech were a little more forthright about its claims. For $60, the device has good sound and certainly prevents the notebook from scalding your legs, but arguing that it works with 14-inch notebooks is simply stretching the limits too far. Logitech needs to redesign this device with the speakers running vertically, along the sides of the Lapdesk, to make this a viable accessory for those on the edge of the officially stated range. If you do own a 13-inch or smaller notebook and are looking for a solution to both keep your lap cool and provide better sound, the N550 should work well; we just wish it was as flexible as advertised.
Notably, either problem is solved with the larger N700's speaker layout or the Comfort Lapdesk's lack of speakers at a lower price. The difference suggests the N550 is currently slotting into an awkward middle category which can please only a slice of notebook owners particularly well.