AirPlay — it's a simple way to stream your music wirelessly (and losslessly, should you so desire), so long as you stay within range of your Wi-Fi network, of course. But given how portable today's small speakers are, why not make things a little less limiting?
That's what Libratone's done with the new Zipp wireless speaker ($399). PlayDirect marries the quality of AirPlay with the convenience of Bluetooth, letting you take the battery-powered Zipp just about anyplace. You can use the Zipp as a plain-vanilla AirPlay speaker, but hit the PlayDirect button and the Zipp sets up its own Wi-Fi hotspot, letting you stream music from any AirPlay compliant app on your mobile directly to the speaker without having to piggyback on a home network — which means you can take it out to the yard, to the beach, camping, whatever (a single charge will get you about 4 hours of playback time). It couldn't be simpler.
But ease of use and portability will only get you so far. The dual ribbon tweeters and 4-inch woofer work together to provide an impressively full sound, one that Brent Butterworth liked so much that he compared it to a great guitar amplifier — the way it "just sounds right and all the other ones in the shop don't."
It doesn't hurt that the Zipp is downright attractive as well, with interchangeable felt sleeves available in a range of colors to suit your decor. Or your backyard.
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