At a Glance
The Bad: Awkwardly placed control buttons
I did a side-by-side comparison of the Z305 with the Z205 and found the newer version to deliver a much warmer sound with enhanced bass. Unlike the Z205, which has front-firing speakers, the Z305’s speakers cap each end of the speaker bar.
Although the Z205 did exhibit a little distortion and boominess in bass-heavy songs when played at top volume, this wasn’t the case with the Z305. At all levels, the sound was even and clear. Of course, this isn’t a 5.1 system, so you shouldn’t expect it to sound like one. But it’s a heck of a lot better than standard laptop speakers, and it’s a nice option for dorm rooms or small offices.
Although both models are designed to clip to the top of a laptop -- or rest next to it – the on/off and volume up/down buttons on the Z305 are placed somewhat awkwardly so that they face the wall once clipped. This isn’t a huge downfall, but it can be irritating if your laptop is close to the wall. You’ll have to do your adjustments blind, but with only three buttons, it’s still doable.
The Z305 is larger than its little sister, adding an extra 5.75 inches in length. I have a 17-inch laptop, so there was ample room, but I imagine it might be bit bulky for a netbook user. In either case, it’s extremely lightweight and makes a decent travel accessory. The USB cords tucks behind the speaker while not in use, and a travel case is included.
Other than adding size and improved sound, the Z305 also adds a 3.5mm jack. This means -- with the right cable -- you can attach the speaker to your iPod or other MP3 player. This is a nice touch as there are many places a portable speaker works that do not necessarily have USB ports.
Although it’s not necessary to download any drivers to operate the Z305, it did take a noticeably long time for the volume up/down buttons to register and operate. On average, it took anywhere from three to five minutes before they started working. I assumed my model was broken when I first used it, but they eventually registered and operated. The amount of time it took to register them did seem to decrease after I had used the speaker a few times.
The Z305 adds an extra $20 to the price tag ($59.99 vs. the Z205’s $39.99), but you’re definitely getting an improvement in sound for those extra bills, as well as the handy 3.mmm jack. If space is at a premium in your location, this portable speaker bar can make things sound a whole lot better.