Product idea: Simple hardware to “mute” your laptop

One of the smartest elements of Palm’s design for the original smartphone was the hardware switch toggle sound on and off… you could call it the “shut up” switch:

treo-mute

And, of course, Apple stole this feature on the iPhone:

iphone-mute

This thing is so useful! There are so many situations where you want your device to be quiet:

  • In bed, at night, surfing the web on your iPhone while your significant other (or your infant daughter) is sleeping next to you.
  • In a talk or a presentation that you don’t want disrupt with a ringing phone
  • While you’re on a conference call and you don’t want to be distracted by your phone.

So how is that more laptop makers don’t have hard sound on/off toggles on their devices?

Until laptop makers figure this out, maybe someone could create a simple headphone jack gizmo I could shove into my laptop’s headphone connector and have it prevent sound from coming out of my laptop’s speakers? (kind of how my laptop’s speakers go “off” when I have headphones connected… except this would just be a headphone jack port of the headphones — no wires, no headphones.)

(and while we’re at it, hey Windows, would you stop making so many sounds? I don’t need a sound at login. I don’t need a sound at shutdown. I don’t need a sound when switching users. Be invisible!)

5 thoughts on “Product idea: Simple hardware to “mute” your laptop”

  1. I’m a little confused here, but perhaps because my Dell Latitude laptops have always been fairly easy to mute. My current one has a nice big button at the top of the keyboard for this purpose. Is this what you’re thinking of?

    But if your computer is lacking this functionality, you can create a “simple headphone jack gizmo” yourself, assuming you have some old headphones or other unwanted device with a 1/8-inch jack. Cut the cable where you will and presto!

  2. The problem with just a button– well, first, a lot of laptops (including my MSI Wind netbook) don’t have any such button. And two, when it’s a button like I’ve seen on Dell laptops, you never know whether you’re starting off with the sound on or off. In the middle of someone else’s presentation, you open your laptop and the sound happens to be on — bam, your laptop makes some distracting noise that interrupts the presentation! So a hard switch that you can glance at and know whether it’s on or off would be ideal IMO.

  3. I discovered that my MacBook Pro maintains two audio settings: one for the built-in speakers, and one for the audio-out jack (used for external devices, typically headphones). I normally have the built-in speakers muted. All I have to do i plug in my headphones, and I have sound, at the volume setting I last set when using the headphones. I unplug the headphones, and the audio goes back to “mute”.

    This isn’t exactly the “shut up” button you described, but it is a very handy behaviour, which, as far as I can tell, is totally undocumented. Why does Apple hide such thoughtful features?

  4. I discovered that my MacBook Pro maintains two audio settings: one for the built-in speakers, and one for the audio-out jack (used for external devices, typically headphones). I normally have the built-in speakers muted. All I have to do is plug in my headphones, and I have sound, at the volume setting I last set when using the headphones. I unplug the headphones, and the audio goes back to “mute”.

    This isn’t exactly the “shut up” button you described, but it is a very handy behaviour, which, as far as I can tell, is totally undocumented. Why does Apple hide such thoughtful features?

  5. I have a mute button on my HP DV5, its touch sensitive so i touch it and it shuts the computer up.

    Simple as that.

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