External Audio Roundup: Thinking Outside the Box
In some ways, audio devices don't belong inside a PC case at all. With its electromagnetic interference (EMI) and noisy DC circuits, a PC motherboard can be a very hostile place for audio. And yet, for years and years, that's exactly where every PC's audio device lived.
More recently, FireWire and USB have enabled external audio adapters, and there are several PC Card–based audio devices for laptop users, too. That isn't to say that all external audio ideas are good ones: Remember a few years back Microsoft and a few other companies tried doing USB speakers? Most of those are now gathering dust somewhere. Creative's Extigy was one of the first USB external audio devices we saw on the PC actually worth considering, and others have since followed.
There are enough good external audio products out there that it's time to round up the ones we've looked at and assemble them together. Some of these products are particularly appealing if you're looking to improve your laptop's underachieving audio subsystem. So, without further ado, here are eight audio products that think outside the box.
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