The Logitech AudioStation is a premium "desktop" speaker system. As with most speakers in this class - compact, one-piece systems that require AC power - the Logitech AudioStation offers bigger (and better) sound than most portable iPod speaker systems.
But the addition of an AM/FM radio and a clock, along with an attractive design and very good sound quality, make the Logitech AudioStation a compelling product that bests even the excellent Tivoli Audio iYiYi in some areas. At the same time, a few minor issues keep the AudioStation from being an obvious choice for everyone.
At 16.3in wide by 7.3in tall by 5.8in deep, the Logitech AudioStation is wider but thinner than the iYiYi. But the most immediately-noticeable difference between the two is in their designs. Whereas the iYiYi features a retro look with a glossy finish and physical buttons, the Logitech AudioStation provides a more understated appearance.
Although most of the Logitech AudioStation's body is matte-black plastic, much of its front face is covered by two removable mesh-fabric speaker covers. In between these covers are an iPod dock (which uses Apple's Universal design and charges your iPod while docked; 8 dock adaptors are included for accommodating most dockable iPods); a large, backlit LCD display; and seven touch-sensitive, backlit buttons - volume up, volume down, source, power, select, up and down - on a gloss-black panel.
(These buttons generally work well, but, like many touch-sensitive buttons, sometimes it takes a couple attempts before your "touches" are recognised.) The Logitech AudioStation's screen features large, easy-to-read characters, and you can choose different brightness levels when the AudioStation is on and off; so, for example, the display can be very dim (or even off completely) at night when the system is turned off, but bright during the day when you're listening.
(Note that Logitech doesn't include the third-generation iPod - the first iPod with a dock-connector port - in the Logitech AudioStation's compatibility list. Although the 3G iPod will play through the Logitech AudioStation, you won't be able to control playback using the AudioStation's remote, nor will a 3G iPod be able to charge while docked.)
Behind the Logitech AudioStation's mesh speaker panels hide four speaker drivers: left and right 1in tweeters and left and right 4in woofers. Each tweeter is powered by one of two 3W class-AB amplifiers, with each woofer powered by one of two 32W class-D amps; total power for the AudioStation is a whopping - for a desktop system - 80W.
The Logitech AudioStation uses tuned, sealed enclosures instead of ported ones; the latter usually provide improved bass response compared to similarly-sized sealed enclosures, but since the Logitech AudioStation uses relatively large woofers, its sealed speakers provide better bass response than the ported ones found on most desktop iPod speaker systems. Each speaker driver is surrounded by a smooth, silver bezel.
Overall, the Logitech AudioStation is the most attractive desktop/one-piece iPod speaker systemwe've seen, with or without the mesh speaker covers attached. (Removing the covers gives the AudioStation a more "techie" appearance; leaving them on provides a more traditional look. There was little, if any, audible difference in sound quality due to the mesh covers.)
The back of the Logitech AudioStation features a captive audio cable (which connects to a rather bulky external power supply); a stereo auxiliary-input minijack for listening to an external audio source; two video-output jacks (composite and S-video) for watching video and photos hosted on capable iPods; and AM and FM antenna connectors.
When you take the Logitech AudioStation out of the box, you'll notice that connected to the AM-antenna connectors are two wires leading back into the body of the system; these lead to the AudioStation's internal AM antenna.
You can remove these wires and connect an external antenna, such as the included loop model, to improve AM reception. The FM-antenna jack uses an unthreaded coaxial connector; included is an inexpensive single-wire FM antenna with a coaxial connector on the end, but you can replace it with an after-market antenna, if necessary. Conspicuously missing is a data port for synching your iPod with your computer.
The Logitech AudioStation's backlit display isn't the clearest we've seen - there's some "ghosting" during use - but it's good enough that it doesn't interfere with the system's use and it's large enough to view from a good distance. And that's important, because much of the Logitech AudioStation's functionality is accessed through this screen.