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First Look: Logitech UE Smart Radio review: a simpler Squeezebox Radio

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First Look: Logitech UE Smart Radio review: a simpler Squeezebox Radio

3:03 /

The Logitech UE Smart Radio largely succeeds at its goal of simplification, but you may be better off with a Bluetooth speaker depending on your needs.

-Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from Cnet and we're gonna take a look at the Logitech UE Smart Radio. This is a wifi radio with a built-in battery and is currently selling for a $180. The UE Smart Radio is a nice looking compact music system, it's gonna be most at home in the bedroom, in the kitchen or a den. Navigation is focused around its smallest 2.4 inch color display and you spin and press the large knob on the front to go through menus which kinda makes it feel like an old school iPod. Now the menus are considerably simpler than Logitech Squeezebox products that preceded this and it genuinely takes a couple of clicks to get music playing. It supports quite a few streaming music services including Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, Mug, Sirius XM, Slacker, Last.fm and TuneIn. You can also play your own personal music collection provided that you're running the UE music library server on our Mac or PC. The server works long enough but it would have been nice if the Smart Radio supported one of the cloud music services offered by Amazon or Google so you wouldn't have to leave a PC running. Turn this Smart Radio around and you'll see there's a built-in handle on the back that makes a lot of sense because the Smart Radio has a built-in six hour battery which makes it easy to carry from room to room without having to plug the AC Adapter. Also on the back is an Ethernet port and a mini-jack audio input plus there's a headphone jack on the side. The Smart Radio also has built-in wifi so you don't need a wired connection. You can also control the UE Smart Radio using your smartphone and there's an app available for both Android and iOS. It's a simple slick clicking app and the radio is very responsive when you're making adjustments. The only catch is that the app can't stream music stored on your phone so you'll need to have your own songs stored on a computer if you want to stream them. Sound quality is really pretty impressive overall. There's only 1 speaker so it's mono only but it still sounds great with a variety of genres from hard rock to jazz or classical based responses surprisingly good for a little speaker. You're not gonna get super deep bass like on a large system but it always sounds musical and it rarely distorts even when you crank the volume. The big question with the UE Smart Radio is whether you want to stand alone wifi radio like this or if you'd be better off with a bluetooth speaker. Bluetooth speakers have some advantages. It only need wifi access so you can take them to the beach or a tailgate party where you're not gonna have wifi. You can also play music from any app you have on your phone so you don't have to wait for update from Logitech to listen to your favorite new audio service. And bluetooth speakers are typically a little bit cheaper with Logitech's own bluetooth wireless speaker coming in at $120. So while the UE Smart Radio is a pretty great compact home audio system and it's nice so you can use it without your phone, you're gonna wanna make sure it's the best choice for your own listening habits. I'm Matthew Moskovciak for Cnet and this is the Logitech UE Smart Radio.

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