A notebook isn’t the best space to try and squeeze in a top-quality sound system and consumers are catching on to the problem. That explains why we’re reviewing more and more multimedia and gaming notebooks that come with audio software from companies like Dolby Laboratories and SRS Labs baked into the system.
But what consumer trends are driving this growing emphasis on quality notebook sound?
A study conducted by Dolby Laboratories pegs the fulcrum of change on the shifting notebook shopping tastes of the back-to-school crowd. Specifically, the survey cites the mindsets of college students as the harbinger of increased focus on punchy audio and media capability in notebooks. In a survey of 300 college students and 300 non-college students, the latter reported that they would likely spend $719 on a PC with an ideal audio setup; college students, however, tapped out at a Benji Franklin higher, $824.
Though that isn’t enough for the cash-strapped student to buy an $1,200-plus, 18-inch desktop-replacement with fixings like a sub-woofer’ed speaker system and heavy-duty graphics cards, it can afford them a low-priced ultraportable like the $649 Acer Aspire 5740 we noted for its stellar Dolby audio, or the $579 Dell Inspiron M101z, which packs SRS Premium Sound technology.
According to the study, students’ affinity for audio is borne out of both necessity and preference. Dorm-habitants derived their entertainment from laptops, not television sets, in numbers more than double those of non-students. Students also reported less reliance on external or desktop speaker systems, and 64% reported that they watch video content on their notebooks with friends, implying a greater need for the type of audio output that can fill a room, or at least reach a couch full of guests. Additionally, 77% percent of students said they listen to music on their notebooks compared to 70% of non-college participants.
So what does this all mean? Well, as students with heightened audio tastes enter the job market, they’ll likely continue as notebook shoppers with an ear – and a wallet – for PCs with good audio support. Thus, more manufacturers will be looking to emphasize speaker design and sound software in their products.
On that fine day, you’ll be able to rush home after a hard day’s work, select Syriana from your Netflix quene, and hear George Clooney’s mumbles without setting the volume to maximum, donning headphones, or plugging in external speakers.