Hands on: Logitech’s Z600 PC speakers go Bluetooth but not completely wireless

Logitech’s Z600 Bluetooth speakers are attractive, and its touch-based volume control is impressive, but its tether to an AC outlet weighs it down – as does the $150 price tag.

Unless you go out of your way to buy a set of speakers and a subwoofer for your desktop, computer speakers are hardly the must-have peripherals that they used to be. These days, most of us simply make do with the speakers built into our all-in-ones, laptops, or mobile devices because we can’t be bothered to deal with the tangle of wires it takes to plug in a pair of external speakers, or we just don’t have any lying around the house.

To make it as painless as possible to enjoy better sound on your Bluetooth-enabled device, Logitech came up with the Z600 Bluetooth Speakers, a stylish pair of speakers that can play audio from basically any gear with Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio jack. In other words, you can use the same speakers to show your mom a hilarious YouTube video, as well as to watch a movie on your HDTV.

But what makes the Z600 speakers extra special is that you don’t control their volume with physical buttons: you just have to “trace” circles with your finger along the top of the right speaker to change the volume. For example, draw a circle clockwise and the volume goes up, while a counter-clockwise circle will turn down the sound. Yes,that’s really how it works.

We got to see these speakers in action at a recent Logitech event here in New York City, but are they worth their $150 price tag? Read on to find out.

Design

The Z600 speakers are not something you’d want to hide behind your monitor. They look like mini pillars from a distance, and share the same minimalistic aesthetic as Apple’s Ultrabooks. Unlike a traditional speaker where sound only comes out of one side, the Z600’s cylinder shape mean they are able to push audio out simultaneously in all directions.

Logitech Bluetooth Speakers Z600

These speakers aren’t totally buttonless, though. Each speaker is wrapped in a gray fabric around a white plastic base, with the physical buttons and ports hidden along the back of the right speaker. There’s a Bluetooth button to pair devices, a power button to turn the speakers on and off, as well as a microUSB and 3.5mm audio jack hidden behind two rubber doors.

Unlike the Logitech UE Boom portable Bluetooth mono speaker that comes with a built-in battery, the Z600 need to be plugged into a constant power source and then into one another other so the pair of speakers can work in tandem.

It’s rather disappointing that these so-called wireless speakers still need wires for power, but they do connect wirelessly through Bluetooth with up to three devices to play music. Users can switch between the three devices without needing to re-connect them. To minimize your desk from becoming a tangled mess of wires, the Z600’s cords are flatter and wider to ensure they stay put and behave.

No app necessary

In case your computer doesn’t support Bluetooth, the Z600 speakers come with a little transceiver, which looks like an extremely short USB drive and plugs into your PC’s USB port. That said, Logitech actually recommends that all users use the transceiver, even if their computer already supports the technology. Once the left and right speakers are connected to the power cord and the speakers are on, any mobile device or Bluetooth-enabled PC should be able to pair with these speakers.

Logitech Bluetooth Speakers Z600_top

If you’re sitting close to the right speaker, you can easily change the volume by “drawing” a circle around the blue LED dot (power indicator) on the top of the speaker with your finger.

However, you also have the option to control the speakers’ volume from the source of the sound. Rather than download an app from Logitech to remotely control these speakers, you can just change the volume in whatever app you’re getting the audio from (Netflix or iTunes, for example). We’re so used to having to use proprietary apps to do limited tasks that it’s refreshing to hear remote volume control could be so intuitive with the Z600.

Do they sound as good as they look?

With three drivers packed into each speaker, the Z600 is certainly powerful enough to fill at least a small room with sound. We wouldn’t rely on it for bass-heavy tracks, or when you need pounding music for a party. These speakers are designed to be a step up from the teeny speakers built into laptops and mobile devices, so they’re more adept at providing a clear audio track for movies than for a house party. Although we only heard these speakers in action in a relatively noisy room, we were impressed that they didn’t sound buzzy even at top volume.

Conclusion

It’s too early to say whether audiophiles will be happy with the acoustic abilities of the Z600 Bluetooth Speakers from Logitech, but as a pair of speakers that make it easy to connect to a range of devices in your home (or dorm room), we think the Z600 is worth the splurge. If you already have a Bluetooth speaker that you’re happy with, the Z600 speakers would just be adding to your tech clutter.

The Z600 speakers are available for pre-order now direct from Logitech.com.

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