The Logitech UE Air bears the Ultimate Ears (UE) moniker previously reserved for the company's in-ear headphones. Operating on Apple's Airplay streaming media platform, the UE Air captures music wirelessly from iOS-powered devices and iTunes software without sacrificing fidelity. An ambitious price tag ($399) may drive you to consider cheaper Bluetooth wireless speakers instead, but the UE Air is worthwhile if room-filling sound is your top concern.
Design and features
The obtuse bend of the low-profile UE Air gives it a shape similar to a stingray, with smooth curves around the glossy black plastic backing that runs all the way around to the covered foam speaker on the front. Its side profile is slim and beautifully contoured, and there isn't much action up front aside from the push-button dock that slides out from the bottom for your iOS devices like an iPhone or an iPad. It also features four rubber feet on the bottom that gives the speaker a slight lift.
Flip it around and you'll find an auxiliary input jack that lets you play music from any source with a compatible 3.5mm wire (not included), as well as a power port for the accompanying AC brick, and finally an Ethernet port for a direct connection to a network. Unfortunately, since Logitech designed this speaker to use as a stationary shelf accessory in your home, the UE Air lacks a rechargeable battery and must remain permanently tethered to the power cord during operation.
The leaning design of the UE Air hides the top-mounted controls from view, but take a look behind the upper lip and you'll see three silver dials: a mute button, a non-notched volume rocker, and a power button that also puts the speaker in sleep mode for quick-start access. It's also worth noting that although the volume knob feels especially sensitive, Airplay allows users to simultaneously adjust volume levels on the source as well as the speaker, so refer to your iOS device to fine tune these adjustments.
Logitech assumes that most users will pair the UE Air to a wireless network, so it makes the setup process nearly foolproof -- just seat your iOS device into the dock on the front, and the Air will prompt you to install the accompanying Logitech UE Air app that will guide you through the Wi-Fi connection process. Remember to latch your device onto the strongest network available and select the same one in the app. Once that's finished, the three devices will shake hands and you'll be able to quickly play music and fine-tune simple equalizer functions like bass and treble levels.
Despite excellent hardware, however, the company falters on the hardware design of the dock itself. The connector sits on a spring to accommodate a wide range of case sizes, but the rotating hinge makes it difficult to properly seat and remove a device without feeling like it's about to break off in your hand.