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Logitech Pure-Fi Elite review: Logitech Pure-Fi Elite

Logitech Pure-Fi Elite

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
5 min read

When we reviewed the Logitech AudioStation speaker system for the iPod last year, we were generally impressed with both its design and performance, so we gave it high marks. Flash-forward to 2007, and Logitech has dumped the AudioStation name in lieu of its new Pure-Fi designation. But while the name may have changed, the Pure-Fi Elite looks a lot like its predecessor--and sounds a lot like it, too. Logitech has made some improvements to the system's design and tweaked its sonics, making a good product even better. But it didn't correct a couple of small but annoying issues. That said, it's a lot easier to forgive the faults of the Pure-Fi Elite: its $180 list price is almost half that of the AudioStation's original asking price.

8.2

Logitech Pure-Fi Elite

The Good

Sleekly designed iPod speaker system with AM/FM radio; line audio input; composite and S-Video output for displaying photos and videos from compatible iPods; digital clock; excellent LCD display; sounds good, with decent bass and clarity for a speaker system this compact; low price.

The Bad

No alarm to go with the clock; S-Video slot is recessed, making it difficult to plug in some S-Video cables; video output doesn't work with sixth-generation video iPods.

The Bottom Line

The Logitech Pure-Fi Elite stands above the iPod speaker competition with a can't-miss combination of excellent design, great sound, and a low price.

The Pure-Fi Elite is an all-black affair that caters to owners of like-colored iPods, but white and other rainbow-hued iPods don't clash too badly with the system; they'll just stand out against the black background rather than meld into it. Color preferences aside, this is one of the sleekest iPod speaker systems we've tested. We like its clean lines and minimalist--but not too minimalist--design, which includes easy-to-read LCD-screen backlit control buttons located just below the display. One of the changes Logitech made was to those buttons--in the AudioStation they were touch sensitive, in this model they're standard, pressure-sensitive buttons. (Many users complained that the touch-sensitive buttons didn't work as advertised.) As for dimensions, the 8-pound system measures 16 inches wide (at the front), 7.25 inches high, and 4.25 inches deep, which makes it shelf-friendly.

In its promotional materials, Logitech makes a point to show the system with its speaker grilles off, exposing the speakers' 1-inch dome tweeters and 4-inch "long-throw" woofers. It's hard to say whether going with or without the grilles looks better, but the fact that you can remove them if you want is a nice plus--and they're now made of metal rather than cloth.

We also like that Logitech chose to go with a larger remote than the credit card-size remotes that ship with competing models such as the Bose SoundDock. Logitech has redesigned the remote for the Pure-Fi and we found the new remote, which has raised, rubberized buttons designed to be easier to use, though it's not intuitive how to get to the bass and treble controls. Overall, the remote's look, feel, and responsiveness are improved. We complained that skipping tracks forward and back on the iPod with the AudioStation's clicker sometimes required a certain degree of finesse. But this one didn't have that problem. You still can't navigate your iPod's menu system from the remote, but that's the case with all but the highest-end systems.

In our review of the AudioStation, we noted that the S-Video port on the back of the unit was recessed, which made it difficult to plug in many S-Video cables to watch iPod video and photo slide shows on your TV. That small design gaffe hasn't been corrected in this model. We were easily able to connect a standard composite cable (you know, the yellow video cable), but S-Video offers better quality, so you may have to shave down the plug on an S-Video cable to make it fit the connection. It's important to note that while the Pure-Fi Elite's video output works fine with older video iPods, it isn't compatible with the latest generation of video-enabled iPods, including the iPod Touch, the Classic, the new Nano, and the iPhone. We should also point out that the included power adapter is pretty bulky. We suspect this has something to do with having to power an 80-watt system (that's the number listed in the specs anyway), but just be aware that it isn't all that easy to hide. (If you're looking for something that's more portable, check out the Pure-Fi Anywhere instead.)

Other features of the Pure-Fi Elite include iPod charging while it's docked and an auxiliary input for connecting other audio devices. Aside from the aforementioned ability to display videos and images stored on your iPod, you also get a built-in AM/FM radio and a clock with a sleep timer, though again Logitech has failed to include an alarm. Yes, the company's step-up model, the $250 Pure-Fi Dream, does offer alarm functionality. But the fact is that when you see a clock on a system, you expect there to be an alarm as well. (How much could that cost to add, anyway?)

On a more positive note, you can store as many as 8 preset stations for AM and 16 for FM--8 for FM1 and 8 for FM2. Logitech now includes numbered buttons on the remote, which makes it easy to toggle between presets (no such buttons existed on the previous remote). We also appreciated that the Pure-Fi Elite has fully adjustable bass and treble levels, and they're easy to tweak with a couple of button presses on the remote (once you figure out which buttons to push).

As for sound quality, like its predecessor, the Pure-Fi Elite quickly established itself as one of top performers in the iPod speaker category. To be clear, if you were to compare the Pure-Fi Elite with a decent $300 home-theater-in-a-box system (or even to certain $200 HTIBs), which usually has a separate subwoofer, the Logitech would probably come out the loser. But compared with other compact iPod audio systems, this little guy can belt out tunes with a decent amount of gusto and clarity. And while it doesn't possess the kind of tight, thumping bass that a good subwoofer delivers, the low end holds together well enough at higher volumes.

Like a lot of speaker systems of this type, the Pure-Fi Elite has very little in the way of stereo separation since the speakers are essentially next to each other. But Logitech has equipped the unit with a 3D stereo feature to help widen the sound field. To call the effect "dramatic," as Logitech does, is a slight exaggeration, but we definitely heard a difference for the better.

Because these types of tabletop/shelf systems' strong suits are generally in the midrange and treble, we didn't expect the Pure-Fi Elite to have a problem with acoustic albums like the Pretenders' Isle of View. The bigger test came when we fired up Prince's 3121 album, which has a number of bass-heavy tracks. For good measure, we then threw in Snoop Dogg's Drop It Like It's Hot and gradually increased the volume. The bass might not have been quite as pronounced on the Pure-Fi Elite as the AudioStation, but the difference in the two units' sonics are subtle at best. In the end, we weren't blown away by what we heard, but we came away feeling that most buyers' expectations would be satisfied, as long as those expectations weren't too high to begin with.

The lower price on the Pure-Fi Elite versus that of the AudioStation certainly helps temper our criticisms as well. Widely available for as little as $150, we expect the Logitech Pure-Fi Elite to challenge some of Altec Lansing's more popular InMotion models as the high-value alternative for those who just can't bring themselves to pay upwards of $350 for the likes of the Bose SoundDock. It's too bad Logitech didn't throw in an alarm, but if that isn't a deal-breaker for you, we have no problem recommending the Pure-Fi Elite. It's an impressive little system.

8.2

Logitech Pure-Fi Elite

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8
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