The Beat is a typical piece of understated Scandinavian design. The triangular upright unit will fit neatly into a corner in any room, and Libratone’s "FullRoom" technology fires the sound out in different directions in order to bounce it off the walls and create an impressively expansive sound. It’s got a built in bass-driver too, which gives the lower-frequencies an extra kick, and 100W total output for party time. However, the Beat doesn’t use standard Bluetooth for wireless streaming, opting instead for Libratone’s own "audio specific wireless protocol". Libratone includes two adaptors for this wireless tech – one for iOS devices, and another, USB adaptor for Macs and PCs - but other types of mobile devices aren’t catered for.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Libratone
Designed by Philippe Starck, the eye-catching Zikmu speakers really are in a league of their own – not to mention a price bracket all their own as well. Available in a variety of colours, the tapering twin towers design is a real eye-catcher - yet it also has practical benefits too. Each 50W speaker is able to pump sound out all around it in order to really fill the room, while the woofers built into the base of each unit will have the floorboards rattling come party time. The Zikmu provides both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity – the latter a rare feature among wireless speakers - although the Wi-Fi configuration is a bit of a mess, and lacks the simplicity of Apple’s AirPlay.
Reg Rating 75%
More info Parrot
Next page: Philips Fidelio DS8550
Don't know if its just me.....
But I just *hate* superfluous features.
I don't have an iPod or iPhone and, while many of these speakers will work with the non Apple kit I *do* have, it just grates my sensibilities that there is this prominent "dock" that I'm never going to use.
Even when they can be hidden away, you still know its there, but can't be used so, for me, the dock-free Altec Lansing has to be the clear winner.
You could have said "*iPod* wireless speakers". I thought this was something interesting.
From a tech site, I'd have liked to hear how many of these support DLNA's "Play to..." function, to be useful with non-Apple kit too.
Of jacks and docks
I can use the audio in jack if I want to. I can use it with just about any audio source I can find.
I can use any of the buttons on the dash if I want to.
I can't use the iThing dock because my phone isn't an iPhone and my music player isn't an iPod.
To continue your car analogy. You can buy cars with built in bike racks. You can sling pretty much any bike onto them. It doesn't matter if I don't use the rack, my bike will fit it if I want it to.
If the rack was custom designed to fit the bikes from a certain manufacturer, and my bike is from a different manufacturer, then its not a matter of "don't use", its a matter of "can't use" unless I buy a new bike from that certain manufacturer.
What I would have to do is fit an after-market bike rack and ignore the factory fitted one, which would be an arsingly stupid situation.
Re: No "affordable" options?
Yeah, I'm with Tim here. Even a bit in the box at the top of the first page indicating the price range would have been handy. As it is, I had to click through five pages of kit and read all the summary boxes to find out there wasn't a single model that I could even begin to afford.
I mean, it's only a wireless speaker. I have a San Francisco Smartphone and a no-name chinese Android tablet that, combined, cost less than the cheapest of these speakers. And I guarantee I'll get a lot more use from the phone and tablet.
No "affordable" options?
I know "ten eye-wateringly expensive iPod speaker docks, some of which might have AirPlay" is more of a mouthful than the title you chose, but it would've arguably been more accurate :-(
Just for starters: if you want to round up some "wireless" speakers, where are the Bluetooth models? They're not all tinny £30 jobbies - Creative's D100 puts out surprisingly good-quality output over Bluetooth (A2DP), and if you shop around you can find it online for under £50. (I saw the D100 on sale for a short time in our local Currys for £35, and having tried one out in the store, I'm still kicking myself that I didn't go for it.)
Personally, I've never seen the point of an iPod dock that costs three times the price of the iPod docked into it, but maybe I just lack imagination...