It's true and we're all aware of it: laptop speakers, with few exceptions, are horrible. They can be fine in a pinch, if you're just going to play a quick game on a LAN or just want to hear the audio on a YouTube video, but generally speaking the speakers built into your notebook—and you know they only get worse the smaller your notebook is—are awful and utterly inadequate for any but the most basic use. If you're a music or movie fan, they just aren't going to cut it.

You could always replace them with a dedicated speaker set for when you're at home, but what if you're traveling? What if you're away and you just want to unwind to some music? There are a healthy number of situations where you might want a better pair of speakers than what's built into your notebook, and some manufacturers recognize this. Hoping to offer a better alternative, Logitech brings us the Z515 Wireless Speaker.

Historically, Logitech has made some solid if unexceptional speakers. I actually used to own a pair of Z4's that I was pretty proud of; they produced excellent bass and in general use seemed to have a solid dynamic range. Since then I've upgraded to a pair of Bose Companion II speakers on my desktop, doing away with the subwoofer and getting my bass just from two small but powerful speakers. This is the part where a lot of audiophiles would be ripping their hair out, but hear me out: the Companion II's produce excellent bass and dynamic range provided they're connected to a good sound card. This is after going through a lot of different speaker sets.

Notebooks don't really have those luxuries, which is where the Z515 comes in. On paper, the Z515 is pretty awesome. What it brings to the table:

  • Plug and play wireless connectivity through an included USB adapter, no drivers necessary.
  • A built-in battery pack good for ten hours of wireless playback from a full charge.
  • A 3.5mm minijack for inputting audio from MP3 players.
  • Bluetooth connectivity with iPad, iPhone, or any other bluetooth device.
  • Two-inch drivers.
  • A claimed fifty foot range.

The Z515 comes with a black zipper carrying pouch, and the wireless receiver can be stored under a hatch on the back; that hatch folds out and works as a stand for the speaker. Of course, if you have a bluetooth-enabled notebook that may not be an issue for you. Logitech clearly designed the Z515 to be as flexible as humanly possible, so how does that work out?

The Z515 in Practice
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Take a step back, Mr. Audiophile, and please note what the article is about: a laptop speaker replacement option. I don't care if you think Bose, Logitech, etc. are crap compared to expensive options, fine. Even the worst Bose/Logitech/Creative/etc. computer speaker kit sounds worlds better than the best laptop speakers I've encountered. Is the Z515 going to impress you? Obviously not, but the goal isn't to replace studio monitors or even inexpensive desktop speakers; the goal is to provide something that works and provides better sound than a laptop's built-in speakers.

    What you're doing is akin to me reviewing a netbook and showing how it compares in performance to a 15 pound desktop replacement that costs an order of magnitude more (and gets an order of magnitude less battery life).
    Reply
  • andy o - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Rule of thumb for arguing about computer audio equipment comments:

    Any time you see OPAMPs mentioned (with some combination of obscure letters and numbers), and "mainstream" audio cards disparaged as "POS", it doesn't deserve your explanation. 99 out of 99 times it's just arrogant audiophile dogma speaking.
    Reply
  • andy o - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    LOLAUDIOPHOOL

    ABX tests proving the inferiority of those things you disparage, or be called out.
    Reply
  • sleepeeg3 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    If you are a movie fan, you wouldn't be watching movies on your laptop anyway. If you have access to a wall outlet, then you should have access to a desktop. I don't really see the point... Reply
  • ShortyZ - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    As a business traveler, I could see a use for speakers like these. Stuck in an airport I'd use my headphones while watching a movie. Stuck in a hotel room without access to a DVD player, these speakers might be worthwhile. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I'm a movie buff and a filmmaker, but when I'm away from home I don't have the luxury of relaxing in front of my HDTV, so I use my laptop. And a LOT of college students are in the same situation: a 42" HDTV isn't going to fit in a dorm room.

    I think a genuine movie fan isn't going to care that much about what they watch their movies on (iPhone/iPad notwithstanding) so long as they can comfortably enjoy the material.
    Reply
  • numberoneoppa - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Surprised the warranted a review, they're just another consumer crappy audio product that doesn't deliver. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    We review what we're sent. If you only want to read positive reviews, I recommend PC World or CNet. Reply
  • Heathmoor - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    Even in CNET, they recommend to for the cheaper Creative D100 instead.
    Other alternatives: BlueAnt M1 (Supertooth Blaster "Disco" in Europe) and Creative D200.
    I think that the only major drawback in these other alternatives is their exclusive Bluetooth wireless connectivity with more limited range. In contrast, I find replaceable batteries a more convenient option in case you don't have access to electric power for several days.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    The battery issue seems too much of an inconvenience, IMHO. This seems better, at less than half the price: http://tinyurl.com/292gq4e

    Dustin, have you heard the legendary Klipsch Promedia? The 2.1 doesn't cost that much more than the Bose Companion 2 Series II, and it's probably a world of a difference. Especially if you set up the speakers at least 5ft away or against the wall, spread out. Base is tight and controlled. I know that Bose sounds decent, but when it comes down to it, it's a 15W 2.0 system compared to 200W 2.1.
    Reply

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