The Logitech Z Cinéma Advanced Surround Sound System is a high quality amplified 2.1 speaker set that is a great match for multimedia center computers. The SRS TruSurround HD mimics a true surround system without the need for extra speakers, although no virtualization, no matter how good, is quite like the sound actually coming from behind you, the Z Cinéma does a decent job of it. The components definitely have some weight to them, which likely means Logitech made them to sound good for a long time, and judging by their past performance history, I imagine I'll be enjoying this speaker set for many years to come.
Unlike most amplified speakers, which exhibit some amount of distortion as volume levels increase, the Z Cinéma system can be run at max volume without any noticeable degradation in sound quality. The sound output isn't quite as high as some might like, particularly if you plan to watch a movie from across the room or listen to music in the next room, however for sitting in front of the computer, the speakers are plenty loud enough. This is surprising, given the rated output of this system, nearly 200 watts of continuous RMS power. Compared to my previous setup, with its measly 30 watt output, I fully expected the Z Cinéma to blow it out of the water. And it did, at least on sound quality, however from a pure dB output level, the Logitech system is just barely adequate in my opinion.
The remote control is no doubt a welcome addition to those using Windows XP Media Center, however for those of us using Vista, the extra buttons offer no advantage. With such a limited user base, considering the OS is three years old and already on Microsoft's roadmap for de-support, it would be nice if Logitech offered some form of software or driver-based control to allow the rest of the world to enjoy the benefits of the remote. I also felt that Logitech could have provided a media player suite that it was compatible with, rather than relying on the end user to have one of the three supported OSs; XP Media Center, Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate.
My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw Logitech's MSRP on the Z Cinéma, a whopping $299. Thankfully, many online retailers are pricing this system much closer to the $200 mark... and with Logitech offering a $60 rebate right now through various outlets, the total cost is down in the neighborhood of $150, nearly half the suggested retail. This puts the Z Cinéma more in line with competing manufacturer's products, and hopefully within the budget of those who this system seems to target, which is HTPC and multimedia computer owners. For those buyers who use their computer for watching television, movies, listening to music, etc., the Logitech Z Cinéma is well worth the expense for the sound quality and top notch components. If you plan to use the system primarily from a distance however, and like to really crank up the volume level, be aware that your expectations may come up a bit short.