The $100 Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 is a simple solution for freeing your music from the aural prison of your computer and mobile audio player. We've reviewed portable Bluetooth speakers in the past, but most have to sacrifice price for size like the SoundMatters FoxL v2, a tiny Bluetooth speaker that'll set you back $200.
The Logitech Z515, on the other hand, offers decent audio quality, two ways to connect to the speaker, and a tough outer shell built to handle the rigors of portable play for $100, while still maintaining a small footprint. It lacks features like a remote control and the option to use alkaline batteries, but we still have no issue recommending the Z515. On the other hand, if you care more about sound quality than size, the Creative D100 comes with dual 3-inch drivers (the Z515 has dual 2-inch drivers) and a price tag $20 cheaper than the Logitech.
The Z515 is made of a tough black plastic and has two 2-inch drivers mounted on the front of the speaker, but they're hidden behind a solid mesh grille to protect them from the elements. We're not thrilled with the aesthetics of the speakers, and it feels clunky and boring next to the Creative D100's four color options and oval construction. The Z515 feels tough, though, and although the Creative D100 is actually a bit lighter, the Z515's overall footprint is still smaller and actually feels stronger thanks to the extra heft. Logitech also includes a zippered carrying case made of ballistic nylon to shield the device even further.
Aside from the two drivers, the front panel is almost bare, save for two small LEDs for battery power and connection status. A thick plastic foot pops out of the back for free-standing operation, and you can store the wireless USB dongle in a small yellow pocket underneath. The volume and power buttons live just above the foot, and although they're all lined up horizontally, each one is shaped differently, which makes it easy to distinguish them without looking. Finally, two rubber feet sit on the very bottom of the speaker to brace it against a tabletop while in action.
Unlike most portable speakers that can only connect through Bluetooth or an external 3.5mm auxiliary jack, the Z515 also includes a wireless 2.4GHz USB dongle for your laptop that can play wirelessly from around 50 feet away. This way, you don't have to deal with switching between Bluetooth on your computer and the same profile on your phone. Creative doesn't include a wireless transmitter with the D100, but instead sells a Bluetooth adapter separately for $40, which explains the $50 price break.
Like most Bluetooth speakers, connecting the Z515 via Bluetooth is simply a matter of holding down the two volume buttons for a couple seconds to put it in pairing mode, then connecting to the speaker on your music player. The process took us less than two minutes before we were blasting music out of our Apple iPhone 4, but you can use it with any player that supports the A2DP standard.
Sound quality from a Bluetooth-connected device will always come up short compared with a 3.5mm cable connection, but we're impressed with the Z515's ability to pump out myriad genres with zero distortion or fuzzy noise even at the highest volume--plus, the speaker gets fairly loud. The dual 2-inch drivers provide fairly balanced sound, but the lack of the bass tells us that the Z515 is better suited for a dinner party or a medium-size get-together--house parties need not apply; not to say that the Creative D100 is much better, but its 3-inch drivers are able to produce a better thump for hip-hop and techno songs. On the other hand, we were able to replicate the Creative's low-end on the Logitech Z515 by simply setting our iPhone EQ to "Bass Booster. It's not the most audiophilic solution, but it works.
Lastly, Logitech rates the rechargeable internal battery to 10 hours of continuous play using Bluetooth, but in the future we'd prefer the option to use alkaline batteries or even a USB-powered solution in the chance that a power outlet isn't around. Nevertheless, 10 hours should be more than enough to keep the party going well into the night.