Getting started with the Z515 is actually as simple in practice as Logitech makes it out to be, at least if you're using the 3.5mm minijack or the wireless dongle. Obviously using the audio jack doesn't require any driver installation, but the wireless dongle did work as advertised. All you have to do is plug it in to whichever computer you want to use, and it automatically installs and is up and running, no sweat. Unplug it again and the computer is back to whichever default sound hardware it was using beforehand. Even unplugging it during midplayback produces a minor jump, but WinAMP at least didn't seem to mind.

The Bluetooth support, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Using the internal bluetooth on a Lenovo ThinkPad X100e or an external Bluetooth dongle with a Dell Studio 17 achieved the same net result: the Z515 was recognized, identified as a "Z515 Speaker" bluetooth headset, and then promptly needed a Bluetooth Peripheral Driver that wasn't available. A trip to Google was able to find me a driver—the first entry on the page, actually—and after that the Z515's were up and running, producing sound indistinguishable from the wireless dongle.

Sound Quality

If you're looking for better sound than your laptop speakers, you'll get it from the Z515, but beyond that is a bit of a mixed bag. I gave the Z515 a legitimate challenge by comparing it against the excellent (by notebook standards) speaker system in my Dell Studio 17. The Studio 17's main speakers are smaller, but the notebook itself boasts a subwoofer. The Z515's were also compared to the aforementioned Bose Companion II speakers connected to an Asus Xonar DX—not a fair comparison as the Companion IIs aren't designed to be portable and you can't buy a Xonar DX for a laptop—but it's one worth making anyhow. For playback I principally used the song "Spitfire" by The Prodigy, which—in addition to being awesome—has excellent and distinct highs, mids, and lows.

First impressions: the Z515 is capable of producing bass. Not a whole lot, but at least some, which signals a definite upgrade. Most notebook speakers simply aren't capable of hitting deep bass, and the bottom tends to fall out of most music. The Z515 doesn't have that problem. Where it loses points is the unfortunate fact that these are still comparatively small speakers, and they can't work miracles. Sound is still tinny, and the range between highs, mids, and lows isn't very clear. While "Spitfire" played back fairly well, something busier like "Shallow Grave" by The Birthday Massacre doesn't fare nearly as well and starts to get a bit muddy. On my desktop, where I have the privilege of a pair of Bose connected to a Xonar DX, the instrumentation and vocals on "Shallow Grave" separate much, much better than they do on the Z515. The difference is night and day.

But the Z515 wasn't designed to compete with quality desktop audio, it was designed to replace notebook audio, and in that position it fares much better. The Dell Studio 17 has the benefit of a subwoofer, and while it produces excellent sound for a notebook playback has a hollower quality than it does on the Z515. Sound quality is actually pretty close, but the Z515 seems to hit higher highs and lower lows. Given that the Studio 17 is a 17" notebook with the best speakers I've ever heard on a laptop (miles better than the competition), it's fair to say the Z515 would be a definite upgrade over any built-in notebook speakers. As for being able to pair with an iPhone, iPad, or other bluetooth-enabled device? Given how small those are, they're an easy win for the Z515.

Wireless Range

Here's where I was really impressed by the Z515. While the wireless MX3200 keyboard and mouse set on my media center have dismal wireless range using the same 2.4GHz wireless technology, making them usable by at most four feet from the receiver, the Z515's claimed fifty foot range actually winds up being fairly conservative. While carrying the Z515, I was able to leave my apartment, walk down the stairs, and cross the street before the sound started to cut out. This was true using either Bluetooth or the wireless dongle: if you want to run music from a computer on the other side of the house, you can do it with the Z515. You can probably bring it over to the neighbor's house.

Introducing the Logitech Z515 Wireless Speaker Conclusion
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  • name99 - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    I second this question. Let's recall that Apple introduced a sorta similar system with Airport Express many years and, I'm sorry, but it SUCKED because the latency was so awful. When I tried it again last year, with the newest HW at the time it still sucked.

    Point is
    - latency really matters for these devices. I'm not an obsessive audiophile and I'm not complaining for the sake of complaining. I want this functionality, but was not prepared to put up with Apple's lousy implementation.
    - if Apple (who usually get the details correct) screwed this up, one is not immediately optimistic that Logitech can do better. On the other hand, they have the chance to learn from Apple's mistakes --- if they are willing to learn.

    So, let's have it, Anand --- what's the latency like?
  • Welshtrog - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Wall*Mart 2.97 Dollars ?? they should go like hot cakes
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Are there some objective pages missing here? I can't believe I'm reading a review on hardware with no actual numbers but merely relying on a "feel" for how the sound quality is. How about a frequency response curve on the speakers (takes all of a minute or two per run)?

    How can Anandtech go from "Audiophile Journeys with a PC" to this puff piece?

    Sorry guys but I'm really dissapointed with this "review".
  • mentatstrategy - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    I agree, I see the author decided to sprinkle in his musical tastes, ramble about a bunch of stuff we don't care about and not give us any clear numbers.

    One number is clear - the price... it's high... too high...
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    First of all, just about anyone, given the opportunity, is going to share about their tastes in art. I'm no more a criminal for that than someone driving down the street with their windows rolled down. That, and frankly I'm in a position where I can give a small band I like a little shout out without being a blatant advertisement. No harm there.

    As for numbers, I have to be honest...if you really want numbers on a hundred dollar sound kit from Logitech, you're barking up the wrong tree and this kit clearly isn't for you. Getting hard figures for comparatively inexpensive consumer sound products would require investing in gear that honestly just isn't worth the outlay.
  • f4phantom2500 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    i think its pretty clear...they don't produce much bass, they sound tinny and hollow, and while better than what you'll find in any given notebook, the sound quality leaves much to be desired. basically, these things don't offer good sound quality and aren't worth buying, imo, since you can get quite a nice pair of headphones for $100.

    ironically, most of what you can easily learn about a pair of speakers/headphones without actually listening to them is from subjective descriptions; numbers like frequency response don't really tell you anything, as it's not unusual to find cheap/crappy speakers/headphones with a good frequency response graph.

    in the end, though, if you want to buy a set of speakers/headphones and you really want to know what it sounds like, there's no way around it, you gotta listen to them first hand.
  • AMDJunkie - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    But... but...

    The quality of ANYTHING must be able to measured in quantifiable, objective numbers or else it's meaningless! How can I know that something is enjoyable or even good if it doesn't have ratings based on some arbitrary scale designed to measure just one aspect of performance that may or may not be pertinent to experience of actually using the product?
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Be gone, sir! Take your logic and "science" from this place of audiophelia!
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Note: replying to the original poster, not the other comments (and jokes and such).

    You'll note that Dustin is part of our laptop reviewing crew, though I've also shoveled off desktop systems on him as well. Anyway, Logitech sent us a press release about these new "laptop replacement speakers" and there was a clause in there stating something to the effect of, "If you'd be interested in a review sample, let us know." As Dustin states from the outset, this is really an article looking at their claim of being good laptop speakers.

    The answer to that is sort of yes, but do you really want external laptop speakers? Anyway, we're really talking about some low hanging fruit here. "Hey, we sound better than laptop speakers" is about as revolutionary as saying, "Hey, we have a laptop that's faster than Atom netbooks!" But there are people that are interested in getting something like this, so we've got a review of sorts. We didn't even go anywhere near the audiophile segment, because these are clearly not intended for such users.
  • 7Enigma - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the reply Jarred (and Dustin above). While my comment drew some jokes and criticism I really was being serious. I didn't expect it to be at the level of the audiophile article, just needing a bit of balance from all the "feel's like" comments.

    When someone says, "the Z515 is capable of producing bass. Not a whole lot, but at least some", that tells me nothing other than the bass isn't great. More beneficial would be to say it rolls off 10dB at 60Hz.....or 70Hz.....or 80Hz. That unknown could be a big factor in a purchasing decision for someone that realizes their not going to get tower speaker quality sound, but also want it to be better than a $20 pair of Radio Shack speakers.

    I guess for me it wasn't so much that the review was short and incomplete (if this had been a single page blog update like some of the other product introductions I wouldn't have even commented), it was that it seemed to be focusing on areas not really related to the speakers themselves.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and take these comments with a grain of salt.

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