5.1 sound from a 2.1 package? We've heard that one before. But this time its Bose whose making the surround sound promise and they're delivering it to your computer rather than your home theater. So what do we think about the Companion 5s after spending a week with them? Jump for some hands-on pics and our initial impressions.
Design-wise, the $399 Companion 5s give your room a techno-penthouse look, especially if you've got a nice computer to match. The subwoofer isn't as stocky as other subs we've seen so it's easy to tuck away, despite it being a bit on the long side. Because the speakers connect via USB, set up is dead simple (you don't need a fancy sound card). We hooked ours up to our iMac (the speaks work with PCs too) and after two quick steps were ready to go.
Bose uses what they call TrueSpace technology to deliver virtual surround sound. It's not the same as having a 5.1 set up, but if you're in the sweet spot (yeah, you gotta sit in the sweet spot which is dead center) the speakers provide a nice, full wall of sound. Again, it's not the same as having rear speakers, but if you're not particular about that and want to decrease the amount of wiring/cabling surrounding your desktop, the Companion 5 does a solid job, particularly with DVDs.
We did have a few nitpicks with the control pod. The volume dial (which is located along the exterior of the pod and rotates clockwise and counterclockwise) is too sensitive. Every time we'd plug in our headphones, we'd accidentally raise/lower the volume. And though we like the touch-sensitive on/mute button (located on top of the pod), we'd prefer to see a physical button that powers the speakers on or off.
All-in-all, if you've got the money and don't mind hearing it from the haters, the Companion 5s won't disappoint you. But if you're on a budget, in debt, living off a welfare check, you'll want to go with a more traditional PC speaker system.