Audio and wireless are two words becoming ever more frequently associated, as can be seen with products like the recently reviewed Philips NP1100 Streamium Network Music Player. The truth is, that in this age of wireless phones, internet and console controllers, people have a perception that they no longer have to put up with tangly, trippy wires. And they're right; even wireless electricity is edging ever closer to commercial reality. Today we're looking at yet another product which helps you free your music to play it when and where you want; Logitech's Z-500 wireless notebook speaker.
Now you might remember when Andy looked at the Logitech Pure-Fi Mobile. This is relevant because the two products could well be mistaken for identical twins. Our main complaint with the Pure-Fi was its somewhat steep price, thanks to some extra phone-related features which put it in a class of its own. So along comes the Z-500 with the phone-features stripped out and a cheaper more expensive price to match. More expensive? Well yes; though both devices feature the same RRP, the Z-500 is actually more expensive in retail because it's newer.
So should you just run out and get the Pure-Fi Mobile, with more features for less cash? Not necessarily, because while Logitech took some functionality out, they did add a bit back in. This bit is rather important for those not blessed with integrated Bluetooth, and consists of an attractive Bluetooth dongle - though unlike Logitech's miniature RF efforts on the likes of its V550 Nano Cordless Laser Notebook Mouse, this model is full-sized. We know Bluetooth transceivers are capable of being micro-sized, so it's a bit of a pity the company has left this one a tad on the large side.
Getting onto what you get in the box, it's a rather nice set. There's the speaker bar, a lengthy mini-USB to USB cable, a very short 3.5mm audio cable with gold-plated connectors, a mini-USB charging cable and a lovely zipped black 'mesh-effect' case. This case is large enough to hold both the speaker bar and the power adapter in separated compartments. The zip is protected by an auto-closing cloth cover, and the case is not only stylish but also well padded with a soft lining, to protect your gear from harm.
In terms of visual design, Logitech products are usually very accomplished, and the Z-500 is certainly no exception. Indeed, the device simply exudes class. As mentioned, it looks almost identical to the Pure-Fi Mobile, which means that at the front, you get a glossy piano-black surround cradling four metal speaker grills with a narrow silver trim. The only other intrusions on the shiny front are the stylish Logitech logo and a small green LED circle, indicating a Bluetooth connection (or lack thereof).
The back is textured in the same appealing soft-touch rubber as its predecessor, meaning it's slip-proof while carrying, and you can put it down anywhere without fear of scratching either the device or the surface it's resting on. If you want to put it down 'standing up', the well-implemented 'legs' at the back are solidly constructed of metal, have thick rubber pads, and fold away neatly when not in use. Speaking of carrying, the Z-500 is nicely portable at only 485grams and relatively svelte dimensions of 27.5 x 3 x 7cm (WxDxH), and overall build quality is ruggedly excellent.