Home / TVs & Audio / Portable Audio / Logitech UE Smart Radio

Logitech UE Smart Radio review

Andrew Williams

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Detailed, punchy sound
  • Wide array of streaming services available
  • Decent smartphone app

Cons

  • High-detail sound decimates low-quality streams
  • Could do with some software refinements

Key Features

  • 3-inch bass driver, ¾-inch tweeter
  • 2.4-inch colour screen
  • Access to Spotify, Napster, internet radio and more
  • Integrated 6-hour battery
  • Six preset buttons
  • Manufacturer: Logitech
  • Review Price: £149.99

Introduction

Logitech just recently unveiled a shedload of new Ultimate Ears-branded gadgets. Headphones, speakers, and the Logitech UE Smart Radio are all out on shelves now. However, this radio in particular may look terribly familiar. That's because it's a tweaked version of the Logitech Squeezebox Radio that has been around for three years. It’s a connected radio that give you access to a barrel-load of streaming services and thousands of internet radio stations.

But has Logitech made enough changes in the UE Smart Radio to make it seem current, now that the world is full of streaming audio gadgets?

Logitech UE Smart Radio – Design

Hardware-wise, the Logitech UE Smart Radio looks identical to the old Squeezebox Radio. It's a small, curvy black box that's even smaller than most kitchen-top DAB radios, but ups the tech ante with a 2.4-inch colour screen.

Aside from the black fabric speaker grille, the UE Smart Radio is fully decked out in glossy black plastic. This is not a radio with even a hint of retro style, and the glossy finish will pick up scratches fairly easily if you don't treat the radio well. However, there is a cute charm to this little box and its little rubber front buttons.

Logitech UE Smart Radio – Features and Interface

This new smart radio from Logitech features an ever-so slightly reworked interface, but it remains near-identical to what we saw in the Squeezebox Radio. You use the giant black knob primarily to fly through the menus, which are fairly quick to navigate. The display remains resolutely non-touchscreen.

For flicking through radio stations the knob works a treat. However, any more advanced use of the UE Smart Radio’s potential quickly feels clumsy with these on-body controls.

Using streaming services like Spotify, you’ll need to use a virtual keyboard to search for artists names of albums. Flicking through the alphabet letter-by-letter with the main scroll wheel is slow and laborious.

Streaming services are what the radio is all about too. You can easily access BBC radio content if you wish, but if you’re not hooked up to Spotify, Deezer or Napster as well you’re missing the point of the UE Smart Radio. The radio supports a bunch of streaming services as mini “apps” within the core Smart Radio interface, added separately once you’re up and running.

Alternatively, you can access your own music collection. Install the Logitech Media Server software and you’ll be able to circumvent the usual headaches that can result from trying to stream your media over your home wireless network.

Navigating these multi-thousand or multi-million track music libraries is where the smartphone app comes in handy. As the Logitech UE Smart is designed to operate over Wi-Fi, it’s fully geared-up for control over your home wireless network, through a phone or tablet. Logitech offers control apps for iPhone and Android.

Finding tracks this way is much easier with this app than using the UE Smart Radio’s physical controls. The only niggles are that there’s often a slight delay in the smartphone command and the box’s response (especially noticeable when changing volume) and that there’s not much covering for the holes in streaming services like Spotify.

All multi-million track streaming services frequently lose rights to tracks, leaving them with “greyed” out albums or songs. In the UE Smart Radio, these becoming quite irritating as there’s no signposting before you tap on them – just the pop-up telling you they’re not available after a brief load wait.

As it’s sold as a completely new product, we’re a little disappointed not to see a bit more software optimisation in the UE Smart Radio, over what the Squeezebox Radio has. Heck, Squeezebox owners can even update their firmware to get the new tweaks.

Chris Beach

January 19, 2013, 9:05 am

Its a pity that Logitech seem to have decimated the SlimDevices brand and range. When they were bought they had the tiny devices for those with amps/speakers, radios like this, and boomboxes for those wanting better sound but didn't have a hifi. Basically like Sonos but cheaper and with better management software (as its so open people can continue to add stuff).

I don't know why Logitech didn't think there was a market for multi-room audio.

Luckily the original devices are still available in places :)

torjs99

January 19, 2013, 11:47 am

21st century and not stereo?

toboev

January 19, 2013, 2:34 pm

I see these sort of boxes as bedside radio-alarms. For that use stereo is irrelevant. I would like to see in the reviews some analysis of 'fitness for (various) purposes' -

eg, the device works well as a bedside unit because (screen readable from all angles, not too bright/intelligent dimming options, 7-day alarm options, easy to control whilst bleary eyed, friendly UI to make BBC podcasts easy to find, transport controls for podcasts...)
the device works poorly as a main room unit because...no stereo, poor remote, screen unreadable from a distance,...whatever..

PS the above is all conjecture - I have no idea whether this thing has a remote or 7-day alarms etc. I'm just trying to illustrate my point about fitness for purposes.

ianb11

January 22, 2013, 8:52 am

why would you read the screen when the remote has all the information displayed. The remote can be an iphone, ipad or android device. The unit sounds great.

I would prefer a better BBC app with all stations and podcasts.

lyndaler

December 15, 2013, 3:49 pm

Initially thought it would solve the problem of static in an area of the house that is problematical. I'm not sure whether we bought a lemon or it is just inconsistent. We get choices some days that we don't get on others. Some days, though networks are 'repaired' and we have 'connection' to our internet, we can't get any Internet Radio....not even the heading. Sometimes choices disappear for days. VERY inconsistent. Am ready to punt it. Would never buy another. Not as intuitive as some people may believe.

comments powered by Disqus