- Wireless or wired audio transmission
- Simple setup
- Rechargeable battery
- MSRP: $99.99
- Setup is a breeze
- Sound is reasonable for the size
- Rechargeable battery is convenient, has good life
- Reception issues
- Maybe a little too simple
There’s no shortage of compact speaker solutions out there, but Logitech is shooting for the ultra-simple, $100 mark, which is not to say low-end, but not, let us say, aimed at the audio enthusiast.
The Z515 is a very straightforward little device; it has two inputs, wireless and 3.5mm wired. The wired connection interrupts the wired one, so you can’t do both at once, though I can’t imagine why you would want to do so. There are only three buttons: volume up, volume down, and power. There is no accompanying software or background service: plugging in the wireless dongle simply adds a USB speaker option to your sound outputs control panel, and once that’s selected, it beams it to the speakers.
Setup was super easy. Both on Windows 7 and OS X, the speakers were detected instantly and just a couple clicks made the switch.
Control is limited to turning the thing on and off, or increasing or decreasing the volume. It got about as loud as you can expect a pair of 2″ drivers to get, which is to say enough to fill a room, though at full volume it could be pretty harsh when there were strong highs and mids. Bass there ain’t much of compared to regular speakers, but it’s much better than what you’ve got on your laptop.
Reception, however, was spotty. With the dongle on my desktop in the center room of my apartment, I heard no issues when I was listening to Chopin in the kitchen while doing dishes. But on my bedside table, which was equidistant, with the same amount of wall (or less) between it and the speaker set, there were constant hiccups and loss of quality.
Battery life is quoted as 10 hours maximum, probably rather less in practice, but charging is easy and you can use it while it fills up. The speakers don’t seem to have any auto-shutdown ability, which seems weird. Why not turn off after 10 or 30 minutes of receiving no signal?
The speaker unit itself is understated and rounded, as you can see in the pictures, which makes it difficult to balance on some surfaces but generally isn’t a problem. It feels solid, and weighs about two pounds, I’d say. The back of the unit pops out to reveal a hiding place for the dongle, and the panel becomes a kickstand. There’s no good comparison for size, but it will easily fit into a bag or backpack. It comes with a little case for protection from crumbs and such.
It’s a straightforward device, a good alternative to simply turning the volume up and hoping you can hear it in the kitchen, bathroom, or wherever you happen to be. It’s nice and portable, and compatibility appears to be good. However, it’s far from certain that its reception range will be suitable for your needs; if you can, make sure you are able to return it in case you find that your walls are, as those of my bedroom proved to be, kryptonite to the signal.