Libratone's last AirPlay outing was a beautifully designed dud -- it was just way, way too expensive. But their next stab, a compact cylinder wrapped in wool, has the chance to be the best take on AirPlay we've ever seen.
The diminutive Zipp, at slightly over 30cm tall, will still run you $US300 -- certainly not chump change. But unlike its competition (other than this Pioneer), it will let you beam your tunes directly from, say, your iPhone, to the 60W speaker itself. No existing Wi-Fi network is required. This makes it a stellar choice for anywhere away from home: the beach, by the pool, the park. Anywhere, really, for an advertised four hours. And thanks to a clever internal reflection system, which bounces sound from the Zipp's drivers in a roughly even 360-degree blast, nobody in an outdoor group will get the short end of the sonic stick. Portable and flexible: this is what AirPlay should have been all along.
If you want to keep it on familiar turf, you can also use your home wireless network like any other AirPlay speaker, or plug in via aux jack and keep it powered with a wall socket. Either way, you'll get what sounded like very damn good, very clear audio to our ears during a quick demo, suited up inside a nifty wool jacket (available separately in a variety of colours, of course).
Check for our review next month. [Libratone]