TUAW reviews its share of Bluetooth speakers big and small, and today's review comes courtesy of accessory megacorp Logitech. That company has been doing some amazing things for iPhone and iPad users, and it has recently introduced the X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker (US$49.99), a tiny short cylinder of sound that comes in a rainbow of fun color combos. Let's take a look:
- Dimensions: 3.38 inch diameter x 1.44 inch thick (8.59 x 3.66 cm)
- Weight: 5.7 ounces (161.6 grams)
- Recharging cable: USB to micro-USB (included)
- Battery life: Five hours
- Available colors: Green, Grey, Orange, Red, Yellow
My initial impressions of the X100 were positive. It's hand-sized, colorful (my "orange" model is actually a dark blue with a bright orange speaker grille and highlights), and immediately intuitive to understand. Around the side of the short cylinder are three plainly marked buttons for volume control (+ and -) and Bluetooth. The Bluetooth button is used to pair the X100 with your device or answer an incoming phone call, and also serves as a pause button while playing music. There's also a power button that is marked only by the universal power symbol.
The exterior of the speaker is primarily a soft-feel polyurethane, so you can be assured that the X100 will live through drops and bumps. There's only one LED on the entire speaker -- a tiny blue one located behind the speaker grill that alerts you that the speaker is turned on. In case you need to connect the speaker to a non-Bluetooth device, there's also an AUX input located next to the micro-USB port.
An opening at the top of the speaker leaves room for the included cord or a self-supplied carabiner, making it easy to hand the X100 from a belt loop or backpack.
As usual, testing the speaker meant that I needed to test sound reproduction for music and phone calls, as well as ease of pairing and using the speaker. The controls on the X100 are really simple. I pressed the power button and voila! -- the power came on. The first time, it also went into what I assumed was Bluetooth pairing mode, since the blue LED was flashing.
A quick trip to Settings on my iPhone acknowledged that the X100 needed to be paired, and with a quick tap that was completed. The X100 makes the usual bleeps and bloops to tell you when it is powering up and down and has connected to your iOS or OS X device.
What I don't understand is how a pint-sized non-stereo speaker like the X100 can outperform some competitors costing four times as much. It has amazing sound reproduction capabilities and surprising volume. It's not the greatest in the speakerphone category, but I have yet to be impressed with speakerphone quality with any Bluetooth speaker.
If there's any negative I can find with the X100, it's the battery life. Most other speakers have battery life measured in the eight to ten hour range; the X100 can run for about give hours before needing a recharge.
Logitech continues its run of useful high quality accessories for iOS devices with the X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker. Rugged, playfully designed, small, light and loud, the X100 also hits the market at a reasonable price.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible