Review: Logitech Pure-Fi Anytime
Based on the past performance of iPod speakers offered by Logitech at various prices, we have generally awaited new releases with legitimate excitement. So we were pleased to see Pure-Fi Anytime ($100) join the company's growing family of iPod- and iPhone-compatible audio systems, particularly given that it's only the second iPhone-ready alarm clock radio we've seen at this price level, and features a unique body design.
Measuring roughly 10.5” wide by 4.5” deep by 4.2” tall, Anytime looks like a glossy black plastic box with rounded edges that has been gently skewed to recline, and cut in the center for a universal iPod dock. Six buttons are on the system’s top left, with eight on the top right, and a motion sensor that activates amber backlighting for each of the buttons; an amber clock display is also found to the upper front right of the dock, with three manual dimmer settings. These amber lights and motion-sensitive touches were taken from the company’s earlier Pure-Fi Dream design, which sells for twice the price and consumes a fair amount of additional space; Anytime by contrast seems space-efficient, and the clock seems both better-positioned and easier to read.
Functionally, Pure-Fi Anytime is a standard budget-priced clock radio. It features AM and FM tuning, dual alarms that can use a docked iPod or iPhone, the AM or FM radios, a beeping sound, or auxiliary input as audio sources. The radios perform as expected, offering fine but not spectacularly clear tuning of local stations, plus three presets accessible via either buttons on the unit or matching ones on an included Infrared remote control. EDGE-related iPhone audio interference is less of an issue than with Sony’s competing $100 system ICF-C1iPMK2 in FM mode, but remains noticeable as static in AM mode. iPhone 3G network audio interference is much lower. Similarly, the alarms work mostly as expected, but with only one issue: at a couple points during our testing, rather than continuing to blare, the triggered iPod alarm gradually increased in volume to a louder level, then unexpectedly went silent within a minute of starting. We unplugged the system and tried the test again; the issue went away.
Our major issue with Anytime is in its overall audio performance for the price. At most volume levels, the system sounded a bit thinner and less impressive in staging than Sony’s $100 iPhone alarm clock, and noticeably bass deficient relative to iHome’s $100 iPod iH9 system. While the latter comparison is a little unfair in that the iH9 doesn’t promise iPhone compatibility, it’s fair to say that iPod owners can do noticeably better on sound quality with a same-priced iHome system, and iPhone owners can do a little better with the Sony. The apparent glitch in alarms, which we’d expect Logitech will address in a quiet product update, would be another reason to prefer either of the other companies’ competing offerings; iHome’s systems, including the iH9, also offer considerably more alarm programmability thanks to their weekday, weekend, and everyday settings.
A minor issue is in backup battery life. For whatever reason, we’ve noticed that Logitech’s systems drain down batteries relatively quickly when they’re not connected continuously to wall outlets, and though Anytime includes an unusually large 9-Volt cell to keep its clock backed up—plus a screwdriver to open the casing to install it—this system suffers from this issue. The clock backup battery was dead after a few days off of power, which wouldn’t have been surprising with a lithium watch battery, but seemed unusual for a battery of this size.
The major reasons to like Pure-Fi Anytime are its styling and pricing. Modern, clean, and with a smaller footprint than most of its competitors, this system manages to look nicer than most of the alarm clocks we’ve tested for iPods and iPhones despite selling at or near the bottom of their price range. Other convenience features, such as the motion sensitive controls and a rear storage compartment for the remote control, also continue to show the thoughtful external design traits Logitech has become known for. While we’d hope that Logitech will make improvements to the next-generation version’s power management and sound quality, this is an attractive system given its price, and if the aforementioned issues don’t bother you, worthy of consideration.