Most personal computers contain a cheap internal speaker that's O. K. for the occasional beep, but inadequate for reproducing voices and music used in the latest software. One solution is to install a separate $150-to-$300 add-on board that can produce digital audio through external stereo speakers. But a cheaper, less complicated alternative comes from an unlikely place: Walt Disney Co.
For a year, Disney's computer software unit has been selling the Sound Source, a $39.95 notepad-size device that plugs into a PC's printer port to generate decent-quality sound effects, music, and synthesized speech through its external speaker. Earlier this month, Disney struck a deal with Phoenix Technologies Ltd., which will sell the device to PC makers, so that they can build Sound Source right into their machines. There's just one catch: So far, it works only with Disney-developed software, plus some forthcoming PC games from software developers Broderbund and Sierra-On-Line.