Earlier this year we reviewed the Logitech Z205, a small speaker designed to sit on top of the display on your laptop and improve the sound quality from your computer or external audio device. We gave the Z205 a positive rating for its easy installation and impressive sound quality from such a small device, but we're also happy that Logitech also offers the $60 Z305 for a larger range of sound in the same compact size. This new model still fits easily on a laptop display with room for a Webcam to sit in the middle, and the side-firing speakers easily fill a small room with big sound. Whether you're a frequent traveler with limited luggage space or just want to rock out at home, the Logitech Z305 is one of the best space-saving speakers out there and deserves your consideration.
Although the Z305 is only $10 more than the previous model, the improvements to the sound quality and physical design are worth more. The speaker itself is longer and shaped like a tube with speakers on either end that Logitech claims will broaden the "sweet spot" and project sound farther than traditional forward-facing speakers. Like the Z205, the Z305 uses a bifurcated clip that bends on a hinge and braces against the back of the laptop screen for unobstructed access.
The two clips are spaced far enough apart to leave room for Logitech's HD Webcam, but the clip can only accommodate thin laptop screens. It wouldn't fit over our flat-panel monitor, and the cord is too short to reach down to a laptop anyway. Still, you should be able to brace it snugly on most modern laptop displays. For those who don't care to struggle with cords, Logitech also sells the Z505 wireless speaker, with dual Bluetooth and wireless connectivity options, for $100.
The top of the unit has three buttons for power and volume adjustment with raised grooves for tactile recognition while the device is clipped on. The bottom features a 3.5-inch auxiliary port for plugging in external music players (cord not included, again), and the wired USB cord tucks neatly into the grooves for an uncluttered desktop.
Once you have the speakers firmly attached to your laptop, installation is a matter of plugging the short USB cord into a corresponding port on your laptop and that's it--the cord transports both power and audio data, so you may need to change the audio source to USB in the Windows Control Panel for it to work properly.
We admit our initial skepticism at Logitech's claims that the Z305 outputs "360-degree sound," but it's definitely far better than any laptop speaker we've heard. If you don't plug it in expecting Bose-quality surround sound, the Z305 lives up to its marketing claims with impressive range across several different genres. We used it with Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album and various HD Vimeo media, and couldn't replicate the distorted low-end rattle that marred the Z205. That said, it still can't compete with large desktop systems with external subwoofers, but the Z305 certainly gets the job done for private listening at reasonable volume levels.