Gadget Gift: Logitech Z515 Wireless Speaker

Like most other people who live in small spaces, I rely on my laptop or smart phone or MP3 player as my sole entertainment center instead of having a large, fixed system in the living room. This suits me just fine, as it means I’m not confined to one room when I want to listen to music or watch a video. However, notebooks and small handhelds don’t produce the best audio in the world, nor the loudest. Thus, I have about four different speakers around my apartment — bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom — and none of them completely satisfactory. Then Logitech sent me the wireless speaker.

The Z515 connects to devices wirelessly via Bluetooth or the included USB transmitter for PC and Mac and operates on a rechargeable battery, so you can place it anywhere in the house. Both the transmitter and the Bluetooth radio have a similar range. I’m usually able to listen to audio streamed from my smart phone up to 20 feet away, though the quality depends on how many thick walls are between the speaker and the source.

Even though the box, instructions, and product page on Logitech’s website mostly mention computer, iPhone and iPad connectivity, in reality the Z515 will connect to any device with Bluetooth. I mention this because this information is a bit buried in Logitech’s included materials. One would assume that a device with a Bluetooth connection would work with all Bluetooth devices, yes, but the persistence of iPhone/iPad mentions might discourage people with other kinds of phones. Don’t worry, it works. I tested it with an HTC Evo 4G, Samsung Epic 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

I really like that the Z515 also includes a transmitter for computers, since not all models come with Bluetooth. The USB dongle is about 2 inches long, so it sticks out quite a bit. I ran into a small problem of it interfering with my notebook’s Wi-Fi connectivity when it was plugged in but the Z515 was off. I think it was searching for a signal constantly. Pulling it out solved the problem. When not in use, the transmitter fits into a little notch on the back of the casing.

There’s also an audio-in jack for connecting devices that don’t have Bluetooth, such as MP3 players.

Audio quality is very good for its size, and volume is never a problem. I have never had a reason to turn it up all the way, even while in the shower or washing dishes. Whether listening to the news or music, voices and instruments are always clear, with good bass and treble.

I’ve found several great uses for the Z515. For instance: late-night movie watching. I can set it right next to the bed and the laptop on my desk across the room, then keep the volume relatively low so I didn’t disturb my roommates.

Logitech claims that the Z515 will last up to 10 hours on a charge. I was able to play music for around 7 hours straight via Bluetooth before the battery light turned orange, and even then it could have gone on for longer. It takes around an hour to charge up completely.

You can snag the Logitech Z515 for $69 at Amazon. Pop it under the tree alongside the MP3 player, tablet, or smart phone you got the gadget lover on your list.

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