Gift Guide: Libratone Zipp AirPlay Speaker

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Short Version

Libratone’s speakers are normally crazy expensive. This one is just temporarily insane. Plus it’s got a direct mode for when you’re outside of Wi-Fi range, and a built-in battery, two things rare on an AirPlay speaker.

Long Version

Features:

  • Interchangeable felt covers in multiple colors
  • 4-8 hour battery life
  • Excellent, 360-degree sound that easily fills a room
  • Carrying strap actually awesomely useful

Info:

  • Wired or AirPlay connectivity
  • Available: Now
  • MSRP: $449.00
  • Product page

The Libratone Zipp is…

… Libratone’s most affordable AirPlay speaker, and maybe the best one available on the market right now when you consider affordability vs. sound quality and features. It boasts four to five hours of battery life, which is admittedly less than its Bluetooth competitors like the Jawbone Big Jambox, but it also has much better sound. Plus it escapes the usual limitations of Apple’s AirPlay media streaming protocol by providing a direct connection mode, which is very easy to set up and use.

You’ll get less battery life in direct mode or wireless mode, but on the plus side you can also plug in via 3.5 mm audio cable (or USB audio with iOS devices) to extend battery life.

Buy the Libratone Zipp for…

… the audiophile in your circle who wants to get on board with wireless music but isn’t happy with Bluetooth quality and has a ton of Apple products. With Mountain Lion, you can even stream audio from web-based services like Rdio or Pandora from your Mac, so this isn’t limited to iOS device owners, though it’s definitely perfect for those folks, too.

Because…

… this is an AirPlay speaker that has it all, that doesn’t drop out, and that looks good (and can change its looks). Most decent AirPlay speakers will cost you somewhere around $400 anyway (the Audyssey Audio Dock Air is a excellent example), but the Libratone brings a lot to the table for its extra $50, even if you’re just looking at the direct AirPlay connection feature. It’s a bit bulkier than the Big Jambox and similar alternatives, but those who appreciate good sound will forgive it the added girth.