Editors' Note: The product reviewed here has been replaced by the Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2. Except for the addition of GSM shielding (which allows you to use an iPhone without swtiching it into airplane mode), the new model is otherwise identical to the previous one.
In a market brimming with iPod speaker systems, it can be hard to compete. However, combine a well-known company with a well-designed, good-sounding, relatively inexpensive product and you've got the Logitech mm50, a wildly popular portable iPod speaker unit. In the spirit of improving on a good thing, Logitech has finally come out with a follow-up nearly two years later. The new unit, called the Pure-Fi Anywhere, offers improved sound and a more advanced remote for the same affordable ($150) price.
At 13 by 3.6 by 1.6 inches and 1.6 pounds, the Pure-Fi Anywhere is on the hefty side for a travel speaker, but the flip-out metal legs, the built-in rechargeable battery, and the included travel case redeem its portability. In addition to the clamshell carrying case, Logitech includes nine iPod dock adapters, which will ensure a secure fit for any previous generation iPod (besides the Shuffle). For newer iPods--such as the Classic and 3G Nano--you'll need to use the adapters that come with the player. As for those with Shuffles or even non-iPod MP3 players, the Pure-Fi Anywhere accommodates with a line-in port found on the back of the unit. (You'll need to provide your own cable, though.) Of course, the unit can only charge iPods using the 30-pin connector, and then only if the speakers are plugged into wall power using the included AC adapter. Actually, this seemingly boring extra is pretty nifty: it has an appendage for wrapping up the power cable for easy storage.
Logitech hasn't deviated from the color scheme of the mm50, offering the Pure-Fi Anywhere in black and white versions. The high-gloss finish doesn't exactly match the metallic hues of the latest crop of iPods, but the brushed-silver trim should go nicely. The overall look of this unit doesn't deviate greatly from that of its predecessor, but there are some noticeable design differences. First, each of the four speakers (two 2-inch Max-X active, high-excursion drivers and two 3-inch pressure drivers) is covered by its own circular grille, whereas the entire face of the mm50 was covered by one grille. Also, the Pure-Fi Anywhere's onboard controls, which reside along the top edge of the speaker, are square and rest flush with the unit. Here, you'll find power, shuffle, and repeat keys; volume controls; and a Stereo XL (separation) button for creating a wider sound space.
If you prefer to control your music playback from afar--and "afar" to you means about 15 feet within direct line of sight--Logitech includes an IR remote to that end. Despite its distance limitations, we're digging the remote. You get the usual--power, shuffle/repeat, and stereo separation keys, along with a five-way playback control pad with play/pause, volume, and track shuttle buttons--but then there's another handy circular pad that lets you step in and out of the iPod's menus. We first came across this with the Cambridge SoundWorks Playdock i and are happy to see that more companies are catching on to this handy feature.
Like its blueprint, the Pure-Fi Anywhere is a solid performer. In fact, the new unit is even better, since it doesn't suffer from the same high-volume distortion as the mm50. In testing, the high-end clarity was nice--triangles and high-hats sparkled over the mids without making things sound too bright. Vocals were warm and buttery, while bass response was tight. Bass is a bit more present through the Anywhere than it was through the mm50, and it's certainly respectable for a portable unit, though it's not going to blow anyone's clothes off. The stereo separation feature did its job, noticeably widening the sound field, though whether it made things sound better is a matter of opinion. The rated battery life of 10 hours is adequate, and we appreciate the fact that the battery is of the built-in rechargeable variety.