Date: February 1st, 2003
Article by: Nathan Glentworth (Head Editor & Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: Altec Lansing
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PRODUCT BREAKDOWN & OPINION
Just what do I think about this system?
Product Aesthetics (Layman's Term: Product Looks)
I do have to say, this is indeed a great looking system. The blue and silver trim really catches the eye and gives the system a designer look not used by most multimedia manufacturers. Just by looking at the picture above, you can notice how it matches my 24" TFT perfectly. Seems that a lot of computer components of today are evolving away from the bland beige of yesterday and adopting the gray colour as pretty well an industry standard and in my opinion, this is a very good thing. Apart from the colour, the shape and design of the 5100 satellites are very unique and are designed to blend in with the modern décor of modern homes and offices.
Product Sound Performance
Sound quality wise, speakers can only output the signal that your soundcard sends to them. So, to boil it down, if you have a cheap, low end surround soundcard, do NOT expect these speakers to transform the crappy sound output into awe inspiring ear-candy, it just won't happen. To test the sound quality on this particular set, I used the onboard C-Media 6 channel sound contained within my Soyo P4X400 motherboard. Although this audio chipset is no Audigy, its sound quality could be described as being "adequate". Unfortunately, when testing this system, I was changing from the Altec Lansing 251 speaker system I reviewed earlier. As the previous review states, the 251's were and still are an amazing set of speakers and it would be hard to top them. Would the 5100 system topple the mighty 251's, in my test labs, not by a long shot. Right off the bat after the installation, which took about 5 minutes, the sound coming from the 5100 system was lacking and I was instantly yearning to reinstall the 251's. The sound range seemed to be lacking depth. Gone was the power within the middle ranges and all you were left with were the high and low frequencies. To be honest, the sound was hollow. Volume wise, the system could rattle anything of walls thanks to the thunderous dual 4 inch long-throw woofers contained within the sub and the deafening high quality 1 inch microdrivers contained within the satellites. But volume is not everything, sound depth is. Don't get me wrong, the sound quality is not poor, but it is lacking.
Now another issue I had with this system was the satellite speaker design.
Although these are an interesting design choice when comparing to other satellites contained within, they are very, VERY tippy. I cannot even count how many times I knocked the rear speakers off my desk just by walking by them and barely clipping them with my leg or the corner of my coat. You would be wise to move these relatively heavy speakers away from the corners of your desk because when they fall they hit hard.
CONCLUSIONS & AFTERTHOUGHTS
After testing two Altec Lansing systems before the 5100's, I would have to say that I was slightly disappointed with the performance of these speakers. Yes, they look great and would compliment most office and/or home décor, but people are not buying this system for looks, they are buying it for sound quality. In my opinion, Altec Lansing's engineering department lost track of there goal of continuing to make amazing sounding speakers, and focused more on the visual aesthetics. Do not get me wrong, as said before, this is NOT a bad system, but rather a system that does not live up to the standards that Altec is known for. I hope they can reverse their thinking for the next round and overcome this minor setback. To keep the credibility of the reviews on Tweaknews.net, I cannot reward this system anymore than the "Good Product Award".
- Great Styling
- Very Powerful Subwoofer
- Fully functional Remote
- Lacks Sound Depth
- Unstable Satellites
If you have any comments on this review, please feel free to contact me HERE, or leave a comment in our Forums under the appropriate thread in our Hardware Review Section.