It often surprises me when a review product arrives, and the brand name doesn’t seem to correlate with the type of product in question. Maybe that’s because we haven’t seen enough of certain manufacturer’s ranges… after all, we are sometimes a little behind the times here at the southern tip of Africa, particularly when it comes to tech products. But we are valiantly playing catch-up, with a good degree of success, and so products like this are becoming more and more common.

If someone says the name Verbatim to you, you think storage… whether it be writeable CDs or other storage devices. Audio doesn’t really clamber to the forefront of your mind, now does it? But Verbatim produce a wide variety of products, including the Multimedia Audio Bar, which has absolutely nothing to do with storing files – you’d probably guessed that already.

This is a speaker system for those who need better audio (that isn’t private, like in the case of headphones). Verbatim’s answer is a striking 370mm long cylindrical speaker system. The design of this device is actually quite pretty. It looks the part, really, all matt black plastic and strong geometric shapes, with the speaker section covered by a tough metal mesh.

The right hand edge of the cylinder houses the integrated power and volume control, with clear demarcations indicating just how loud it’s set (thanks to a tasteful blue LED arrow that also indicates whether the unit has been turned on or not.) The left edge of the cylinder also features that same speaker grill cover.

The sound quality from the Multimedia Audio Bar is good. It delivers audio in 2.1, with good bass response and crisp mid and high tones. It gets pretty loud, too – ok, you’re not gonna run a party with it, but it will serve most purposes well. And here’s the kicker – even at maximum volume, there was no bass distortion at all… and that’s the mark of a decent set of speakers.

Anything that can handle a 3.5mm headphone jack can be used with this device, making it really versatile. It has two built in cables – one for audio and one for the microphone, which is built into the device and delivers passable performance. It also features an auxiliary sound jack, and is thoughtfully shipped with an extra jack to jack cable. The whole lot is powered by an external power supply.

You could do a lot worse than this when it comes to speakers for your PC, notebook or MP3 player. Sure, it’s not a surround sound system, but decent stereo is nothing to be sniffed at, and thanks to the wide construction of the unit, the stereo is evident.

The downside here is that the Verbatim Multimedia Audio Bar 2.1 speaker system unit may be a little expensive for some. It weighs in at just under R1 000, which is fairly expensive for a single housing stereo speaker set. But the sound performance is good, after all, so it’s not a massive complaint. It’s also fairly portable, but it will need to be near a reliable power-source if you’re going to carry it around.

Verdict: It looks good, and it gets fairly loud without any nasty distortion.