Offers good sound, low price, but speaker is held back by battery, digital signal processing (August 7th, 2014)
Product Manufacturer: Logitech
- Sound quality
- Battery capacity/charging/indicator
- Digital processing
- Power button
Bluetooth speakers offer a wealth of choices for consumers, with sound and price often coming down to the main factors for a purchase. Sound needs to fit the requirements of the user, from those that seek crushing bass or a balanced spectrum. Trying to find the middle ground between what consumers can afford and what sound they want can be a difficult equalibrium to reach. But can a good balance of price and sound be found in the sub-$100 market? Yes, with the $70 Logitech X300 mobile wireless speaker. But does the sound stack up to speakers more than twice the price, or are consumers taking too much of a hit to save some cash?
The Logitech X300 takes on an interesting shape, mixing a desktop-anchored solution with the design of the UE Boomtube. It starts off as a cylinder, that tapers to a point, which is offset on the back of the speaker. The aluminum grill on the front of the X300 bends in the center to accommodate the internal construction that puts the two front speakers at a 30-degree angle. Measurements for the speaker are 5.9 x 2.8 x 2.7 inches, small enough to be packed around in a bag or tucked into some water bottle holders on a bike.
Apart from the aluminum grill, the X300 is wrapped in a textured rubber layer. The rubber helps to keep some grip when the speaker is placed horizontally on a surface. It isn't enough to create a strong grip, but offers at least some protection from accidentally being knocked off of a desk. The X300 can also support its weight when placed on its side. This gives the speaker the option to be positioned in two fashions, something many other Bluetooth speakers can't do. Logitech offers the speaker in four different color options, including black, purple, red and teal as the base colors.
Controls consist of three buttons on the top of the speaker, and a power button in an ill-conceived position on the back. The top buttons control the volume and a number of functions through a multifunction button between them, like Bluetooth pairing, phone calls and pause/play. Volume buttons give a beep when the bottom and top of the ranges are hit. Each offers a quick response, even if a user cannot determine if the volume changed. A single press of the volume button raises it or lowers it only slightly. Holding the button is required for more drastic changes. The unit lacks buttons for track changes.
The power button on the back sits on the right side, facing the speaker, and sits above the lip
that the X300 rests on. It seems awkward to put the button out of sight and out of the way of the control buttons. A user can feel it out on the back, but since it isn't a defined button like the others, the speaker may need to be picked up. Users should be able to tell which side it is on, as the left side holds the micro USB for charging and the 3.5 mm auxiliary jack.
For as little as the X300 is and the price of entry, the speaker has good sound. Sound is fairly balanced across the board, without any one part of the sound standing out. Bass isn't so powerful that it overwhelms everything else, highs aren't shrill or distorted, and mids don't bleed into either. Across all distances of the decibel level tests, drops between two to nine percent were witnessed when comparing 100 and 25 percent results. For as small as the speaker is, it also packs a decent amount of presence. Maximum levels at a foot away hit 91.4 dB on "Hunter," which gives an idea of how capable it is. The X300 feels like it puts out much more sound though, feeling louder than it actually is. However, that doesn't mean that sound is free of flaws.
One thing that was noticed is how the X300 can sound a little heavy-handed with digital signal processing (DSP). While it does keep the speaker from distorting at high volume levels, it also alters the music when bringing it up to a certain level. When playing "Notorious," which generally reports the lowest decibel levels, it was found to perform at or slightly higher than "Welcome Home" in some tests. This typically isn't seen, unless DSP is being liberal in its application. It does seem to retain most of its drop off at 25 percent of source volume. It ends up changing the nature of some songs, making them feel unnatural in the process.
When it comes to battery life, the X300 shows its price. Logitech doesn't indicate the size of the battery, but it has a maximum stated life of approximately five hours. At around 75 percent volume, the battery lasted just shy of four hours. To compound the issue, it takes just about as long to charge. Recorded charging times put it at 220 minutes to reach a full charge. It doesn't help that the small battery indicator is on the back of the speaker next to the power button. It's a pinhole sized LED that only lights up when the battery is getting ready to die. During charging, it blinks until the battery is fully charged, then shuts off.
Logitech created a good-sounding speaker when it came to the X300. It offers a well-rounded sound that is generally free of distortion or other interruptive sound elements. With a $70 price tag, it's really a good value for the quality of sound that is achieved, outside of the DSP issues. However, the battery is a major issue for the speaker. Given that it only last up to five hours, and takes nearly as long to charge it to full, it hardly seems like it's worth picking up for anything other than light use. Apart from the battery issue, consumers will find it hard to track down another speaker with the value of the X300 in the same price range.