Apple’s AirPlay is the most exciting addition to iOS since multitasking, and it’s ready to make the audio market boom with supported devices. Although choice is limited at the moment, with AirPlay being a new standard from Apple, there are a number of great speaker systems already announced and coming to the market within the next few months – you can find some compatible speakers on the market right now – so if you’d like to join me, I’m going to run down what I think are the five best systems available now or in the near future!
Don’t understand what AirPlay is, what it does, or what its advantages are? Check out our introduction to the new standard here.
The Apple TV is, of course, already freely available on the open market, and since it comes from Apple themselves it’s kitted out with all the necessary tech to make AirPlay work out of the box with you wireless network. It’s the cheapest option on the list at just £101 (which happens to be substantially more than the US asking price of $99), and you can connect it to any HDTV and sound system in your house.
The iHome iW1 not only incorporates AirPlay technology, it’s also highly portable. What does this result in? A wireless speaker system that can be taken anywhere around the house – or the garden – thanks to its rechargeable batteries and built in wireless connection.
The system looks great, and it can also function as a standalone iPod dock as well if you haven’t got AirPlay yet, or simply want something thats simple to use and looks good. It will put you back £299, and is expected to hit the market fairly soon.
A number of systems made by Denon which are already on the market can receive a firmware upgrade to enable AirPlay. The good news is that you don’t need to shell out for an entirely new speaker system. The bad news is that the firmware upgrade costs £39. Seriously.
Considering you’ve already paid for the system, having an extra £39 squeezed out of you probably isn’t the most popular policy that Denon has ever introduced, but it’s most probably worth it nonetheless. The Denon CEOL and RCD-N7 are both AirPlay compatible, and if you haven’t already got one you can pick up a system from around £600.
Philips Fidelio SoundSphere
Philips’ Fidelio SoundSphere system is the most expensive on this list, with an estimated cost of around £700 when it comes to the market in May. That may be a high price to pay for a 2-speaker system, but boy do those speakers look nice! Apartment dwellers up and down the country will be clamouring for these when they hit the shelves, but with no official announcement from the company itself, we don’t know exactly when the release will arrive.
For that price, you’d better hope the speakers sound great, but even if they don’t they will still be an impressive conversation starter.
B&W Zeppelin Air
Saving the best ’til last? Oh, I think so! The Zeppelin Air speaker is absolutely gorgeous, and we know that the sound quality is good, because the original Zeppelin has been on the market for a while already with good reviews from those in the know.
The Zeppelin Air still acts as an iPhone dock, but the addition of AirPlay totally refreshes this system. It’s one of the best looking speaker systems I’ve ever seen, and most definitely worth the £500 asking price on looks alone.