Laptop Front Audio Input Concerns
July 31, 2007 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Are front headphone jacks on a laptop computer a real pain?

I need to get a new laptop and several of the models I like have the audio jacks right under the mousepad, directly where my palm would go when I'm mousing.

Any heavy headphone users out there have one of these models? Is your headphone jack always in the way? Is this the only spot left on a notebook computer to put an input?
posted by Overzealous to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
I find the front jack becomes more of a problem when you want to plug in speakers and the wires get all crazy since it has to get plugged in the front, but mine is juuuust beyond my mousing hand (to the right). I would think that directly below the mousepad is actually a pretty good spot, since your hand is generally curved around the mousepad with the palm/wrist resting to the right (or left) and there's less hand interference in that spot directly below the mousepad.

FWIW, if you get a wireless mouse, this won't be an issue at all (and after a while, you'll probably want one anyway).
posted by ml98tu at 12:07 PM on July 31, 2007

FWIW, MacBooks and MacBook Pros have the jacks on the side (and they double as optical in/out for digital connections).
posted by AaRdVarK at 12:18 PM on July 31, 2007

I've got an HP laptop with the headphone jacks just barely to the right of the mousepad, on the front of the computer, and I actually like it better than on the side. I can easily see them for plugging in the headphones, the cord doesn't get tangled or caught around or underneath the computer, and they're closer to me so that I have more room to move around (my headphones have a relatively short cord).

The only frustration I've ever encountered is in plugging in external speakers.
posted by Galt at 12:20 PM on July 31, 2007

Bad for speakers, good for headphones. My last two laptops have had them up front -- even the spdif out. Sucks when I hook up speakers, but working on it and plugging in headphones it's just fine.
posted by MarcieAlana at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2007

I tried a notebook like this briefly, and laying in bed with the computer on my tummy and the headphones plugged in was rather annoying.

For that (and many other reasons), I now have a Macbook, and like things much better.
posted by 4ster at 12:43 PM on July 31, 2007

I'd echo what you've seen here, good for headphones, bad for speakers. I have my headphone jack on the side and like it, FWIW
posted by craven_morhead at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2007

The headphone jack under the mousepad scares me slightly. I'd worry that the increased likelihood of palm pressure or hits on a straight headphone plug would cause early jack failure.

A right-angled plug on the headphones would lessen the risk of jack damage, whether the jack is on the front or the side.

Myself I prefer jacks on the side or back, and a clean front.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2007

The only thing I don't like about this arrangement is when I've got my laptop on my lap the headphone plugs poke me in the abdomen.
posted by Mitheral at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2007

I've had the front audio jack on my HP fail twice. I used it both for headphones and speakers, and generally sit with the laptop on my lap. Now I'm using a USB audio adapter that hangs off the back with a pigtail. It's a PITA, but at least it hasn't broken once.
posted by jepler at 1:33 PM on July 31, 2007

On my old HP, the headphone jack was on the front, under the mouse pad. On my MacBook Pro the headphone jack is on the side. I never had a problem with my HP, but the first time I used my headphones on my MPB, someone sat down on the couch next to me and sat on the (rather long) headphone cord and bent the plug and did who knows what to the jack. They both still work, but you might not be so lucky.
posted by knowles at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2007

I asked this question awhile ago because, after almost 2 years of using headphones with laptop on lap while reclining in bed/on sofa, my abdomen bashing the headphone plug all but buggered the headphone jack on the front (just off to the right, lke ml98tu's.

On the side (as with previous laptop) was MUCH better. But a little portable USB soundcard like this one solves the problem fairly cheaply. Until the thigh bangs it too hard and buggers the USB port.
posted by Martin E. at 2:37 PM on July 31, 2007

My Toshiba Satellite has the front-headphone-jack setup. Never poses much of a problem for me because my palm is naturally to the right of the touchpad. If it were in the space that the headphone/speaker plug occupies, I wouldn't be able to efficiently type and use the pad at the same time.
posted by roomwithaview at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2007

I like to prop up my notebook on my treadmill so I can watch things while I walk. It's hard to hear without headphones, but the front headphone jack on my old HP made the whole machine tilt precariously to one side. My new Dell sits much more securely.
posted by Biblio at 7:34 PM on July 31, 2007

My 2 year old Acer has 3 audio jacks, one USB port, wifi button and BT button on the front, right of centre. The marketing sticker, which I still haven't removed, touts it thus:
"Front-access ports and controls intensify the bond between PC and user."

It's a real pain in the ass. It's a great laptop (kicks my work HP laptop's ass). But yes -- you can't feasibly work with your laptop on your lap with headphones plugged in. But then again, guys might want to refrain from this.
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:23 PM on July 31, 2007

Yes, the headphone jack on the side is better, especially if you are squished up with it in a train seat, on the plane etc.

So.... buy a Macbook!

I'm sorry, were we trying to be subtler about that?

BUY A MAC! .... oops

posted by ranglin at 11:53 PM on July 31, 2007

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