Published on October 17th, 2011 | by Greg0
A Great Bluetooth Portable Speaker: Logitech’s Wireless Boombox
The boombox lives on. We miss the days when portable speakers meant carrying a giant boombox on your shoulders, annoying and delighting those around you. Battery life wasn’t great, the sound was pretty terrible, and they weighed a ton… maybe we don’t miss it so much after all.
And while speaker technology has improved a bit with new materials, the rest of the boombox has been utterly transformed. Digital music technologies have shrunk everything down, and better batteries (and rechargeable ones) mean lighter weight and improved life. Logitech’s latest portable speaker entry is the simply named Wireless Boombox, and while the name is catchy, you’ll find that it shares little in common with it’s predecessors from the 80′s.
For starters, it’s wireless- using Bluetooth, not Airplay, which makes sense considering the likely use cases. Pairing is simple, and though they target specifically iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users, it’ll work with other devices as well of course, and offers the typical thirty foot range (which can stretch a bit in the right conditions). At two pounds, it isn’t light enough to toss into a bag without noticing; but it’s an interesting entrant into the space.Most Bluetooth portable speakers we’ve tested are smaller and lighter, but correspondingly offer less power and battery life. And in a somewhat odd twist, this unit feels almost like a dock, but lacks an actual connector- it looks extremely similar to it’s sister, the S715i, just without the dock. Finally, it isn’t really weatherproof, though it should stand up to inclement weather- we dropped it and kicked it over and had it out in some wind and moisture with no issues, but it can’t stay out in the rain (we’ve seen some non-wireless, unpowered speakers that can).
Like a lot of Logitech gear, it’s well-built, sleek and black. We would’ve liked to see some sort of Squeezebox integration, since it’s wireless, but Bluetooth certainly works well. The audio quality was surprising, especially at higher volumes. In a small room, only the Squeezebox Boom and the Zeppelin models put out volume and still managed to sound clean and reasonably accurate. Our testers weren’t thrilled with rawer, acoustic music, but on pop and rock music it was impressive, bright without sounding strained, and with plenty of oomph. The Wireless Boombox throws several speakers in the package, four tweeter/mid-range drivers and four passive bass radiators, that sound balanced and with a reasonable presence. We wouldn’t pit them against any non-portable system- Logitech’s own computer speakers sound better at a lower price point- but they present a nice proposition for anyone in the market for a portable system. The versatile Logitech Wireless Boombox only has one major downside- the stand feels cheap and it can make the unit rattle a bit.
Whether it’s for use in the park, or out on the deck or patio, you want something that balances price, size, quality and power, as well as battery life. With six hours by their measurements, and between 5:30 and 6:20 in ours with volume at medium levels, you should be good for nearly a full day at the beach or on a picnic. The modern styling is a bit unfortunate, considering the name- a nice square boombox would certainly satisfy some of the local hipster crowd. There isn’t a remote, but since most folks will simply use their Bluetooth device to control it anyway, we don’t mind the omission. A 3.5mm mini-jack input is available for those who want; we weren’t able to tell the difference between wired and wireless with any real certainty (for most tracks, at least). At $150, it bridges the area between the lower-end and the higher-end, walking that delicate line and balancing all of the factors nicely.