Since its release back in 2005, Logitech’s mm50 (also reviewed here) has been among our most-recommended speaker systems for the iPod thanks to true portability, good sound quality, and a variety of useful features for the price. The company recently replaced the mm50 with the new Pure-Fi Anywhere, which offers improvements in some areas while falling short of the mm50 — just slightly — in others. (Since this review largely compares the Pure-Fi Anywhere with the older mm50, I recommend reading our full review of the mm50.)
At 13.3 inches wide by 3.8 inches high by 1.6 inches deep when folded for travel, the Anywhere is just slightly longer and thicker than the mm50, and uses a similar design: a wide “bar” shape with an iPod dock cradle in the middle and two speaker drivers on each side. An improvement over the mm50 is that the Anywhere’s dock uses Apple’s Universal Dock design. Nine included inserts accommodate older dockable iPods; newer iPods each include the appropriate Universal adapter. The Anywhere also works with the iPhone, although not officially — you get an onscreen alert about putting the iPhone in Airplane Mode to reduce interference.
Logitech has also updated the look of the Anywhere; instead of a single metal grill covering the entire front of the system, the Anywhere’s body is black or white plastic with another clear layer of plastic on the front; each speaker is separately covered by its own plastic grill. This design makes the Anywhere slightly lighter than the mm50, but it also feels a bit less sturdy. Two thick metal arms swing out from the base of the Anywhere to act as stands; each arm has two large, rubber feet.
Like the mm50, the Anywhere uses a built-in rechargeable battery that provides approximately 10 hours of playback at reasonable volume levels. A new battery-level meter on the top edge of the Anywhere shows the current charge level, glows red when the battery needs to be recharged, and blinks green while charging. Unfortunately, the battery isn’t replaceable. Your iPod charges, as well, when the system is plugged into AC power. Turning off the Anywhere also turns off your iPod.
The Anywhere offers more options for controlling the system and your iPod than the mm50. The Anywhere’s infrared (IR) wireless remote offers the standard play/pause, back, forward, power, and volume buttons, but also shuffle, repeat, Stereo XL, and iPod-menu-navigation controls. The navigation controls are located on a four-way rocker that offers Up, Down, Menu, and Select buttons. You can use these controls just as you would the iPod’s Click Wheel; in my testing, it was easy to browse the iPod’s menus, although scrolling longer lists is slow, since, unlike the Click Wheel, the remote doesn’t offer any acceleration. You can even use the remote to set ratings on non-touchscreen iPods. (Of course, to use the remote to browse your iPod’s menus, you have to be close enough to read the screen — a caveat with all remotes that offer this feature.)
The remote offers very good range for an infrared model; I was able to control the Anywhere from as far as 20 feet away straight-on (range is less when using the remote from the side). The buttons also have a much better feel than the “bubble” versions used on the mm50’s remote. On the other hand, one issue I experienced is that when using the remote to browse the iPod menus of an iPhone or iPod touch, the menu up and down buttons would jump two lines with every button press, making it impossible to select certain items.
Along the top edge of the Anywhere are buttons for toggling power, Stereo XL, shuffle, and repeat modes, as well as for adjusting volume. I found these buttons to be difficult to press, and their backlighting was difficult to see unless I was very close to the system; I preferred the mm50’s larger, brightly-lit buttons.
Like recent versions of the mm50, the Anywhere offers a 1/8-inch minijack input on the back for connecting a second audio source, but no data port for syncing your iPod with iTunes. (The original mm50 included a dock-connector port; this port was removed in recent versions to reduce costs.)
The Anywhere also includes the same kind of semi-rigid travel case as the mm50. However, a welcome improvement is that you can now fit both the speaker system and its international (100V to 240V) AC power adapter in the case; the adapter has been redesigned so that when folded up, with the cable wrapped around it, the adapter fits neatly in the Anywhere’s iPod cradle.
In terms of sound quality, the Anywhere is good for a speaker system of this size. You get good midrange and upper bass, and the speakers are wide enough apart that you can actually get a bit of stereo separation when the system is, for example, sitting on a desk next to you. The Anywhere also plays fairly loud.
On the other hand, in my testing the Anywhere’s sound quality isn’t quite as good as that of the mm50. The mm50 offers better treble detail, and the mm50’s “3D Stereo” feature is more effective than the Anywhere’s Stereo XL effect, offering better stereo separation and imaging. (The latter was one of the pleasant surprises when we reviewed the mm50; the Anywhere didn’t impress as much in this area.)
To be fair, the Anywhere’s sound quality is still good compared to most systems of this size; it’s just that the mm50 was such a standout product in this respect that I had hoped the Anywhere would at least be comparable — especially considering that Altec Lansing’s inMotion im600 essentially matched the mm50 in sound quality earlier this year while offering more features at the same price. On the other hand, as noted above, the Pure-Fi Anywhere does better the mm50 in several ways: a Universal dock, a much-improved remote, and a better-designed AC adapter that can fit inside the system’s travel case. You’ll have to decide whether or not these improvements are worth the minor tradeoff in sound quality.
(Also note that with the release of the Pure-Fi Anywhere, the mm50 is now available for as little as $100, making it even more compelling.)