by Tommy Ly
May 11, 2012
While the popularity of AirPlay continues to grow with Apple TV, there still aren't many choices available if you're looking for AirPlay-enabled speakers. If the Griffin Twenty was already available, we'd say its safe to end the search for AirPlay speakers right there. Unfortunately, the search continues and has brought us to the Logitech UE Air speaker, Logitech's first entry into the world of AirPlay. The Air looks like it belongs on a shelf, featuring a mesh grille that covers its entire 23.1-inch by 9.2-inch face. A slide-out iDevice dock on the front of the Air can be used to charge your device and is also used in the Air's initial setup, with the aid of the free Logitech UE Air application. In addition to AirPlay, the Air can also play audio through a built-in 1/8-inch auxiliary input and ethernet port on the back of the speaker. Apart from a volume dial on the top of the speaker, you'll also find power and mute buttons. This is as minimal as it gets, but should you judge this book by its cover?
The GoodSetting up the Air couldn't be any easier, thanks to the Logitech UE Air app. Docking your iDevice will prompt you to download the app, which then has you connect your speaker to your Wi-Fi network. Once connected, the speaker will appear on your list of AirPlay devices. The speaker handled several genres of music without fail, as well as several movies. Audio output is crisp and clear, with decent stereo separation. Even at higher volumes, the Air held up nicely with minimal distortion. You can tweak the speaker's treble and bass response through the companion app, although admittedly, it doesn't do much. Audiophiles aside, the sound quality of the Air's speakers should be able to please most.
The BadWith a $400 price tag, the Air leaves a lot to be desired. Although music and video sound good, at best, the lack of thumping bass is a major let down. The bass response is clean, but sounds thin compared to most speaker systems. Tweaking the settings in the Logitech UE Air app doesn't help much. I may be nitpicking here, but the addition of a remote would have been nice. The built-in volume dial works with the volume on your iDevice; if you adjust the volume using the dial, the change will be reflected on your iDevice. This is a nice feature, but leaves control of the volume tied to that single iDevice. Lastly, the Air cannot be powered by batteries. Unless you've got a wall outlet nearby, this $400 speaker will be confined to your home or office.
VerdictLogitech's UE Air speaker is a good first attempt at an AirPlay speaker. Its minimal design looks great and would fit nicely in any home, but its high price tag cannot be justified due to its poor bass response and lack of features. If you're still interested, Logitech's UE Air Speaker is available for $399 on their website. Are there any AirPlay speakers that you've had your eye on? Or, do you think AirPlay has a long way to go before you buy any dedicated AirPlay accessories?
Logitech UE Air