Pros: Size, $100 less than IM7, up to 10hours battery life, line in port, Fairly powerful
Cons: Mild distortion at the maximum value, No indicators showing the current volume setting
I recently received my gift from epinions (yes the gift that other top reviewers received back in the beginning of 2005) where they allowed me to pick any item under $200. I had been looking for a portable speaker for my MP3 players with some punch to it.
Given the track record Logitech has had with computer speakers over the past few years, I had to give serious consideration to the mm50s. The only other speaker choice I was considering was the Altec Lansing InMotion IM7 speakers but the size of the IM7s turned me off. The fact that the mm50 speaker also had a built-in Lithium-Ion batteries compared to the IM7 (you install 8 D cell batteries) also tilted my choices to the mm50. The size of the mm50 was much more appealing to me.
In 6 days of use, I've been very happy with the mm50 speakers. Now I'll tell you why.
The MSRP is $149 for these speakers... compared to the competition, this is a steal! Often the speakers will be discounted (Best Buy had them for $129 recently) so there are deals to be had.
You can read my article The Art of Buying... Getting your money's worth! to find some tips for saving a little money on electronic purchasing.
Again considering the competition includes the Altec Lansing InMotion IM7 ($249) and the Bose SoundDock ($299), the mm50 are a steal especially if you can get them at $129. Altec Lansing also had other models for sale like the IM3 ($179), IM5 ($149), and IM11 ($99). The IM5 and IM3 would likely be the closest competitor to the mm50s. I don't know too much about the Logic 3 i-Station or the DLO iBoom which are in the same price range.
In the Box
Inside you get the mm50 speakers inside a black rigid carry case and a thin wafer remote stashed at the inner bottom part of the case, an AC power adapter, and three cradle molds (for the iPod Mini, the iPod Nano, and iPod less than 30GB in size). There is a laminated poster sized instruction sheet (folded up of course) included as well.
The mm50 is pretty much a solid brick of a speaker setup. It doesn't fold up or have any gimmicks to it... just a solid iPod white exterior with the inset cradle. You clearly see the two sets of speaker drivers. One on each side being the Max-X high-excursion drivers with neodymium magnets being the larger drivers and the pressure drivers to improve the bass response. The unit has dimensions of 12.75" x 3.75" x 1.4" and is a bit on the heavy side at 1.6 lbs.
The top of the unit has four buttons. Two for the volume controls, one to turn on the surround sound/3D sound effects (the button lights up reddish orange when on), and one to turn on the speakers (there is a LED here to denote various power states as well). The power button will light purple when the unit is on and playing on battery power, solid red light when the battery power is low and the unit is running on battery power, blink blue when charging on AC power, and solid blue when fully charged on the AC adapter.
The bottom of the unit has two evenly spaced 3.5" metal bars with thick rubber feet so the mm50s can stand on their own. They are extremely sturdy!
The back of the unit has a line in port, and iPod Dock connector pass through (you can dock your iPod through the mm50 if you attach the iPod dock connector cable), and the power port. The Lithium Ion battery is removable but only if you disassemble the mm50 (the instruction does show you how to disassemble the mm50 to get to the Lithium Ion battery!).
The rigid case seems okay but I don't expect the speakers to take too many hard bumps in it. Shouldn't be too much of a problem since the speakers are built like a brick!
For a portable speaker, the sound is surprising rich and deep. With volume set at a medium level, the sound is rich and clear. It gets a decent bass response for a portable system which is saying alot. The midrange response is excellent. Although the speakers can't compare with a good home theater system, it may be able to compete with low end and even decent mini-all-in-one systems. That's how good these speakers are.
As for the 3D sound enhancement feature, pressing the button will allow some music/sound to appear as if you were listening to a surround sound setup. While you will not notice it with all music, you do notice it on some music especially if you straight in front of the speakers and a few feet away and the difference is noticable and overall pleasant. It doesn't seem to be a certain type of music from what I can tell for example the Classic Disney CD box set had tunes thats seemed to benefit from it like "A Whole New World" and tunes from "The Little Mermaid" and other songs that had no noticable effect.
Overall, the mm50 can fill a medium room rather well near its maximum volume output. It should do good enough for large rooms that are relatively quiet. There is some mild distortion of sound at the maximum volume output with some sounds... rock and bass heavy songs seems to be most affected while classical music had no notable distortion.
Becareful of the volume settings. The mm50 doesn't have a set indicator telling you what the current speaker volume is set to. On top of this, changing the volume of the speakers also changes the volume of the iPod connected to it via the dock connector. So check the volume of your iPod before you listen to it with headphone... you might blow your ears out if the volume is set to the max. Note that the volume indicator on the iPod does not tell you the volume setting of the mm50!
Logitech rates the battery at 10 hours. I'm gotten about 7-8 hours of use over a 2-3 day span. Not the greatest but acceptable. Longer trips will require you to bring the AC adapter along. Keeping higher volume settings and the 3D sound effects on lower the battery life.
The battery charges in about 4 hours if you've completely drained them.
As I stated before, the battery is user-replacable but not easily so. You have to remove all the back screws of the mm50s to get to the Lithium-Ion batteries. As with other Lithium-Ion rechargable batteries, they will begin to degrade between 300-500 recharge cycles and offer significantly reduced performance around that time. Logitech does sell replacement batteries for the mm50 when that time comes.
The cradle comfortably fits iPods of 30GBs and larger and the Video iPod 60GB (although there is some space between the back of the Video iPod 60GB and the back of the cradle). You must use one of the three cradle adapters to fit the other iPods into the cradle. There is one adapter for the iPod Mini which provides an exact fit for the iPod mini and one adapter for the iPod Nano which also provides a solid and snug fit. The last adapter is for the Video iPod 30GB, Photo iPod 30GB, older iPods with 20GB or less of hard drive space.
Other than playing back the music any time I want, the mm50 with one of my iPods makes a great portable and very loud alarm clock. The iPod will turn on the speakers and blast music at me to get me out of the bed... and everyone else in the house as well.
My iPod Reviews
My Video iPod 60GB review (covers the 30GB as well)
My iPod Nano 4GB review
My iPod Nano 2GB review
Each of one these reviews also contains tips on how to save money on buying the currently available iPods.