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Reviews

Short Take: Logitech V20 Notebook Speakers

By Legacy October 20, 2005, 12:00 am

When you open the box, you find the V20's in a top-notch hard carrying case. You could throw this thing around and not worry about damaging the speakers. This is a really nice touch.

Inside the case you find the two speakers with attached cables and a slim instruction booklet. The instructions are under the speaker and contain virtually nothing of value.

The cable on the left speaker connects to the right speaker and the USB cable on the right speaker plugs into a USB port on your laptop. Both of these cables are fairly short definitely indicating that the V20's were designed for laptop rather than desktop usage. A USB extension cable would make them quite at home on your desktop, though.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

The lack of a required AC adapter for these speakers is a real convenience. One less thing to remember to take along is much appreciated.

Each speaker has a fold-out stand on the back of it.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? When I plugged the V20's USB cable into into my Windows XP laptop, a few messages popped up about finding the speakers and installing the support for them. All of the drivers required are built into Windows XP and there is no software to be installed on your laptop.

However, when I attempted to test the V20's with my Apple PowerBook, it was a different story. Despite Logitech's claim that the V20's are supported on Mac OS X, they produced no sound when plugged into my PowerBook. There was no information related to this in the Support section of Logitech's website and the included instruction booklet was mute as well.

After some exploration, I discovered that you need to manually select the V20 speakers as the audio output device in the Sound settings of System Preferences. It would have been nice if this had been mentioned in the documentation or on the Logitech website. Audio quality on the Mac was identical to that of the Dell Windows laptop.

PUT IT UP TO ELEVEN

A handy feature of the V20 speakers is the array of control buttons located on top of the right speaker. In order from left to right, they allow you to play/pause, stop, track forward, track back, mute and increase or decrease volume. According to the Installation Guide, Volume Up, Volume Down and Mute will work with all software but the rest may or may not be supported by a given application. In my testing with Windows Media Play 10 and iTunes 5, all of the buttons were functional. They are extremely stiff and difficult to press though.

THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE

My first impression upon testing the V20's was: "Wow, these little guys have some decent bass!" I was also surprised by how much separation of the left and right channels there was. Sitting in front of my laptop with the speakers about 18' apart produced a very distinct sweet spot, making the vocals seem to come directly from the laptop screen.

Unfortunately, the news is not all good. After a few moments it became apparent that the lack of a midrange driver on the V20's was a real weakness. It was especially noticeable for me with certain female vocalists. Since the midrange was lacking, these ladies had no depth to their voices and came off sounding rather tinny. I tested the speakers with several different styles of music and the lack of midrange was always there. In addition, I noticed that the 2' driver produced an unpleasant hiss that was audible during quieter passages and when no music was playing.

Pros

  • Surprisingly good bass and stereo separation
  • USB powered
  • Control buttons on speaker
  • Great hard case

Cons

  • Weak midrange
  • Background hiss is audible
  • Control buttons are very tough to press
  • Did not work as claimed on a Mac

OVERALL IMPRESSION

In summary, I think the V20 notebook speakers are an excellent idea that just needed to be executed a little better. The speakers are sturdy and attractive and the USB power is very convenient. However, these advantages cannot outweigh the issues with midrange audio quality for me.

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