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Logitech is no stranger to the world of iPod speakers, churning out both desktop and portable units since shortly after the time of the player's inception. The company hasn't varied sharply from its formula over the years, mainly making evolutionary changes to up the quality and functionality of the devices. The latest portable speaker, the S315i, offers iPhone shielding along with a power-saving feature to increase battery life. The $130 unit offers solid sound quality and a durable, compact design, making it a good fit for iPod owners who are constantly on the go.
Style-wise, the flat-black Logitech S315i is not at all striking, which means it will likely appeal to most eyes. It's nearly a perfect rectangle, save the slight pinching in the middle that adds a bit of curve. At 10.5 inches wide, 5 inches tall, and an inch deep, the unit will fit nicely into any carry-on bag or purse, though we are a bit disappointed that Logitech didn't include a case in the package--we've come to expect it from speakers in this price range. That said, the unit seems quite durable, with a sturdy flip-out kickstand that covers the iPod dock when closed and a rubber flap to protect the ports on the back.
The back of the S315i houses all controls and features. There's a DC input for the included power adapter as well as a line-in jack that allows you to connect an iPod Shuffle or any non-iPod audio source, though you'll have to provide your own stereo patch cable. Two volume buttons--"up" curved out and "down" dented in for blind control--are housed on the right side, while a power switch sits just above the kickstand. The switch has three settings: off, on, and power-save. When the unit is in power-save mode, it offers up to 20 hours of playback off of the battery, whereas standard mode will provide about 10 hours. A single LED beneath the front speaker grille indicates battery level: green glows when you have more than 40-percent power, orange lights up for 5-to-40 percent, and red indicates less than 5 percent.
The main problem with the Logitech S315i's power-saving mode is that it noticeably decreases audio quality. When we switched the unit into this mode during testing, music sounded thin and weak, with little low-end response. It was barely tolerable. The good news is that the speakers actually sound quite good when running off of wall power or when in standard battery mode. Music comes through clear and open, with no background hiss or distortion, and there is some bass, though not as much as we'd like. Also, while high-end detail is decent, we think the S315i could stand a little more warmth in the mids. Overall, however, we're pleased with the audio response offered by the unit. It's not for audiophiles, but will satisfy the average listener looking to fill a hotel room with tunes. Oh, and it gets good and loud.