The most significant upgrade the Logitech UE Smart Radio gets is an internal battery – which was only an optional extra with the Squeezebox. This will last for up to six hours’ playback, dramatically increasing the portability of this dinky radio.
A battery does dilute the messaging of the Smart UE Radio a bit, though. If it’s a radio that’s tied to a Wi-Fi network, is a battery all that useful? Of course it is.
For use out in the garden, in the bath or just between rooms, the internal battery comes in hugely handy. And a little recess in the rear of the radio’s body makes it super-portable too. It’s not entirely wedded to wireless, either. There’s a 3.5mm input on the UE Smart radio, letting you plug-in virtually any audio source. Bluetooth connectivity is not included, however, so if you’re out of range of Wi-Fi, you’re back to relying on wires.
Most radios the size of the Logitech UE Smart radio use a single speaker driver, usually a 3-inch cone. Although this radio doesn’t go as far as including stereo speakers, it does feature a 3/4-inch tweeter.
The effect of this tweeter is immediately apparent. The UE Smart Radio sound is far more detailed and critical than most small sets. Bass is punchy too, and volume impressive for such a dinky box. Even at high volumes, the Smart Radio keeps it together too. Mid-range tonality isn’t great – flat and texture-less - but there are always going to be compromises with an audio gadget this small and affordable.
With higher-quality content, the UE Smart Radio sounds good, wiping the floor with most rival radios. However, the problem is that the increased treble presence of the tweeter highlights the dismal bit-rates that many internet radio stations are broadcast at.
Even well-known stations can sound like a mess. It’s more evidence that if you’re not planning on using a dedicated music streaming service or connecting to your computer’s music collection, you might as well not bother.
Although the Logitech UE Smart Radio sells for roughly the same price as the Squeezebox Radio, its near-identical twin, we shouldn’t complain too much that there hasn’t been a price drop in the three years since the introduction of that model. This “new” radio features an internal battery, worth over £20 by itself. And several non-connected radios without batteries cost around £100. However, the UE Smart Radio could benefit from more optimisation on both hardware and software.
The Logitech UE Smart Radio is almost exactly the same as the Squeezebox Radio, released in 2009. You get an internal battery and updated software, but Logitech hasn’t messed to much with the original formula. There’s still progress to be made, but with few low-cost alternatives out there, it’s a top choice. Good sound quality, solid integration of most of the UK’s top streaming services and flexible hardware earn the Smart Radio a thumbs-up.
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