Some interestingly sideways gadget evolution from Altec Lansing today: The ultraportable Orbit speaker, which originally called for a child's fistful of batteries, is now powered directly over USB. Which is great, for some people.

In gaining a USB cable, used for both audio input and power, the neatly-kickstanded OrbitUSB loses its batteries, and by extension, its 3.5mm jack. In practical terms, this means that the speaker is eminently more useful for anyone trying to coax a little more sound out of their notebooks—or even more so, netbooks—but that it's totally limited to that one application: You won't be able to use this to impose your iPod's contents unto others.

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If that's exactly what you need, though, the OrbitUSB will be available starting in Mid-September for $50, case included. [Altec Lansing]