So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Stereo speakers with "omni-directional" audio.
- Project sound both forward and backward, remote control
- Bass and mid-range get bloated and distorted at times, some harshness in the highs, no AC power
A basic set of PC speakers with a few quirks, the Logitech Z-5s operate entirely via USB, which means you need a PC to use them. The audio quality is adequate but nothing special.
Price$ 200.00 (AUD)
Logitech makes the enticing claim that its Z-5 speakers provide omnidirectional audio, and the speakers' small form factor makes them attractive for users with under-sized desks. However, they have no AC adapter, meaning you need a PC to use them. Moreover, their audio quality leaves a little to be desired. They are a decent but not outstanding option for non-discerning listeners.
At first glance you could be mistaken for thinking the Z-5s project sound in all four directions. The speaker pillars are covered in mesh on all four sides, but a quick test reveals that only the front and back have drivers; the sides are totally empty. So while they do manage to project sound both forwards and backwards, it isn't a totally room-filling experience. When listened to them from the side, most of the detail in the mid-range and highs disappeared and the bass became totally dominant.
In front of the speakers the audio becomes a little more balanced. The bass is still quite powerful and booming, but it is also quite slow, lending a fairly firm texture to the sound. We'd have liked it to have a little more clarity, as in any bass-heavy passages or blocks of loud noise a fair amount of detail was lost.
The mid-range was the best part of the sound. In simple, quiet passages and even during some basic guitar riffs, everything sounded smooth and clear with fairly good detail. However, as soon as things became more complex we lost quite a bit of definition and there was some noticeable distortion. Some quieter sounds were also lost in the background during these passages.
Treble notes were decent for the most part, although a little bland. We would have liked them to be richer and sweeter, but they had good detail and definition. At times we found that some acoustic guitar strings came across as a little harsh, but piano-based tunes sounded good.
The soundstage was good considering the size and cost of the speakers. The multi-directional nature of the audio does give it a little more depth; we found the volume levels adequate to fill a medium room.
The speakers run entirely off USB power. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it helps reduce cable clutter, but on the flipside it means you can't use them at all without a PC. The only other port is an auxiliary input for your iPod or MP3 player, but most users will probably just connect to their PC via USB and play audio that way.
A remote control is also provided that has some basic functionality like play/pause, track skip and a button that opens music software on your PC (such as iTunes). However it won't work with your MP3 player.
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