There are some pretty great Bluetooth speakers on the market today -- the Ultimate Ears Boom and Jawbone's Big Jambox are my default choices, but even Creative's new Roar is impressive. They're all quite expensive, though, so how do cheaper speakers like the Logitech X100 stack up?
What Is It?
The $59.95 Logitech X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker is, all told, a pretty basic device. It's a compressed cylinder, with a curved pop-out fissure that a short wrist-strap lanyard (included) can be attached to. Available in black and four bright grille colours, the X100 has a few ports and buttons arranged around the outer edge of its curved face.
I got my test unit from Officeworks, although you'll find the X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker at a bunch of different electronics stores. It's compatible with any device that can stream Bluetooth audio -- so that's almost any Android phone, iOS device or laptop. A 3.5mm audio input jack (but no bundled cable) lets you connect basically any audio device that you might want to play music from.
What Is It Good At?
For a small speaker, the Logitech X100 produces some pretty good audio. It's not going to keep an audiophile or particularly discerning listener happy -- there's no Apt-X codec for the Bluetooth, and you can hear the compression even on lesser streaming audio tracks -- but its single 2.5-inch full range speaker can handle mid-range and treble frequencies surprisingly capably.
Maximum volume is quite high given the X100's small dimensions -- it's only 38mm deep, while the 85mm speaker grille diameter stretches to 98mm when you include the hole for the lanyard. Compared to the UE Mini Boom, the X100 is actually slightly louder and slightly more adept at high frequency sound, although it doesn't quite have the same warmth and depth of sound -- and lacks the ability to pair up in stereo, of course.
There's no question about the X100 lasting its rated five hours of battery life at anything but the loudest volume level, too. Charging pretty quickly over the included 90mm micro-USB cable -- although there's no wall charger included, so you'll have to use an existing one, buy a cheap extra or plug it into your PC -- I drained the X100 completely with around five and a half hours of loud music playback, and then recharged it completely in around an hour.
You even get a tiny integrated microphone, so you can use the X100 for handsfree phone calls. Truth be told, the microphone isn't excellent -- it's muffled and doesn't pick up voices from more than a couple of metres away -- but it gets the job done unless you're in an especially loud environment.
What Is It Not Good At?
There's no extra app-controlled features like an alarm clock or automatic equaliser for the X100 -- it's only for music, and only garden-variety Bluetooth. While they're not particularly important, the lack of these extras does leave this Logitech speaker a little bare; it's great for music and the occasional handsfree call, but that's about it.
Despite its sturdy-looking exterior and rubberised coating, the X100 speaker isn't waterproof. It's more than a little resistant to scratches and bumps, but if you spill your drink on it or drop it in the pool, it's a goner. I'm also a little wary of losing the lanyard, which holds together with a plastic clip that might become a little loose with continuous un-clipping and re-clipping.
The X100 also distorts when you turn it up loud, which is no surprise. I personally would have preferred a lower maximum volume, since this would extend the speaker's battery life and only eliminate especially harsh and noisy audio break-up.
The Bluetooth range of the X100 is OK, but it's not as extensive as Logitech's 30-feet (10 metres) distance claim. I tested the X100 with a couple of different smartphones, and after around 6 metres' distance in open air the audio from the speaker would start to break up. If you're going to be using the speaker with desks or walls in between it, this range will be slightly shorter again.
Should You Buy It?
There's not much to dislike about the Logitech X100. It's utterly simple to use, has decent battery life and sounds better than its price tag would have you expect. It's a no-frills speaker, but for less than $60 you can't ask for too much. If you need a portable wireless speaker that can stand up to a bit of punishment, the X100 is a smart choice.