The Gadget: The LaCie USB speakers designed by Neil Poulton are an encore to the original FireWire version.
The Price: US$60
The Verdict: If you liked the unique ship-vent design of the original FireWire version, you will not be disappointed with its new USB twin. However, outside of the design, I did encounter a few potential problems.
Again, I love the design of the speakers. They are extremely compact and the minimalist style looked great with my equiptment. As far as the sound goes, I was generally satisfied with the quality for the size. The base response is weak, but for everyday listening it will get the job done. Unfortunately, I did encounter one major problem—these things hiss like a mofo. No matter what you plug them into or what volume you have it set at, the LaCie speakers gave off a very audible, and therefore annoying, speaker hiss. This problem is magnified by the fact that there are absolutely no external controls—so the speakers stay on 24/7.
Outside of that one major issue, I noticed that the USB cable is not especially long, so you may encounter a spacing problem depending on where your computer is located. I was also a bit miffed that the power supply is an optional purchase—so if you want to use the speakers to listen to an iPod or other external audio source you either have to drop some extra cash or keep the speakers tethered to the computer.
In the end, the appeal of these speakers really comes down to the design. The audio is generally good, but given the problems and the price, I feel that it does not offer a good overall value.