Make no mistake, Logitech’s UE Smart Radio is simply a rebranded version of Logitech Squeezebox Internet radio.  But that’s no reason to overlook the piece of kit.  The UE Smart Radio is small, easy to use and packs in a decent audio punch despite its diminutive size.

The UE Smart Radio is portable, though it’s largely designed to be toted around the house as it requires a WiFi connection.  The onboard screen measures 2.4-inches, and while that’s small by today’s standards when compared to all smartphones, it suffices nicely as the on-screen font size, along with its clarity make it easy to view from an finger’s length.

That said, Logitech UE offers a companion iOS app that allows you to control the device (volume and playback) assuming both devices are connected to the same WiFi network.  The app isn’t mandatory for basic commands, but if you’re looking to add apps, such as Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody, SiruiusXM, Slacker, Last.fm and so forth, then you’ll need an iOS or Android device. It’s a simple, yet very polished app that offers an experience that is aesthetically comparable to a Windows Mobile handset.

The UE Smart Radio is laid out in an equally intelligent and simple manner.  It boasts 6 preset buttons that can be programmed with any favorite from any service, including Pandora, and TuneIn Radio.  A clickable oversized knob serves as the main point of control, while a smaller knob to its lower left is the volume control (clicking it mutes the radio).   To add a WiFi’s network you’ll need to scroll through a some what painstaking vertical alphabet list, but after that you can use your iOS or Android device to perform actions that require spelling things out, such as adding new Pandora stations or searching for Spotify tracks.  There are also a set of media keys for controlling playback, and alarm shortcut button (you can add multiple alarms), a back button, and the always necessary home button.

In use the Logitech UE Smart Radio is extremely easy to use.  The Home screen features all of your music services, and access to settings, music apps, favorites, and My Music.  My Music allows you to playback music files stored on a computer.  I didn’t test this particular feature as it requires not only setting up the appropriate software, but stored music on a computer which I don’t have or use (I’m 100% Spotify).  The settings menu is devoid of EQ tweaking, or simple bass and treble settings, though from there you can modify a variety of options that range from displaying a digital clock depending on what action the UE Smart Radio is performing, to pairing it with another UE Smart Radio such that you enjoy simultaneous playback and control from room-to-room in your home.  There are also a variety of advanced controls that include a diagnostic check of your WiFi network and battery, but those are a bit beyond the call of the average consumer.

A removable battery is fully rechargeable and offers about 4 hours of playback on a single charge when the UE Smart Radio isn’t plugged in. And of note there is an Ethernet port, but it’s really moot since the versatility of this device is found in it small and portable size (22cm x 8.5 cm x 12.8 cm) which can only truly be utilized when connected to a WiFi signal.

Sonically the Logitech UE Smart Radio is down right impressive.  Behind the mesh grill is a ¾-inch high-definition, soft-dome tweeter and 3-inch high-power, long-throw woofer powered by a class D digital amp.  I was astounded by the UE Smart Radio’s presence, relatively large sound stage, and acoustical range.  Mids, treble, and bass are all well balanced – one doesn’t drown at the other which can often occur on speakers of this size.  But make no mistake, the UE Smart Radio can’t supplant a full sized speaker system, and is probably a more analogous experience to the Large Jambox (review coming soon), though without the shortcoming in terms of functionality.

Bottom Line:

a sharp looking device that distills the often complex Internet radio into a simple yet sonically satisfying experience.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Pros:

  • Wireless playback with a built-in rechargeable battery
  • Smartphone remote app doesn’t need line of sight, which makes adding stations and apps easyS
  • Solid range of sound for its size

Cons:

  • A bit expensive ($180)










Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."