According to user reviews, the biggest problem with the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air iPod speaker is navigating the initial wireless setup. Editors at CNET say that although the setup might confuse first-timers, it's actually fairly straightforward. A PCMag.com reviewer points out that once you make it through the setup, the AirPlay capability is a "joy to use." PCMag.com's Tim Gideon also feels that audiophiles might be offended by the signal processing the Zeppelin Air uses to eliminate distortion at high volumes, but otherwise this distinctive, blimp-shaped speaker sounds very good; some experts call it an improvement over the previous B&W Zeppelin model, providing balanced tones at all volume levels.
Users like the unit's sound and streaming capability too; unlike the Arcam rCube (*Est. $475) and Bose SoundDock 10 (*Est. $550), you don't have to buy any extra dongles to activate the streaming feature. One user complains that it's hard to tell which end is up on the remote control -- a subtle indentation lines up with your index finger when you've got it right -- and an expert reviewer thinks the remote's design looks great, but that its basic functionality and inability to navigate iPod menus is a problem. If you're looking for a good-sounding speaker that doesn't cost as much, the reasonably priced Creative ZiiSound D5 (*Est. $160) receives critical praise. The Arcam rCube costs about the same as the Zeppelin Air when you add in the cost of its wireless streaming dongles, but is a good alternative if you need a portable speaker with excellent sound capability.
CNET, MacWorld and PCMag.com all offer detailed analyses of the Zeppelin Air, from initial setup to a rundown of sound quality and features. Almost every expert review site has something to say about the Zeppelin Air, and more than 30 Amazon.com users chime in, confirming the experts' impressions.
Our Sources: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Ipod Speaker Reviews
The CNET reviewers declare the Zeppelin Air's AirPlay streaming to be superior to Bluetooth, and say that setup is "fairly straightforward," although it could be confusing for some. They like the unit's build and sound performance, but feel its price qualifies it as a luxury item.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air, David Carnoy and Steve Guttenberg, March 22, 2011
MacWorld reviewer Dan Frakes laments the Zeppelin Air's lack of component or S-video video out options, but likes the remote's intuitive layout and the "subtle indentation" that makes it easier to tell when you're holding the remote correctly. He reports that the initial setup "wasn't as simple as I expected, but it wasn't too painful," and ultimately gives the Zeppelin Air a perfect 5-mouse score.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) Zeppelin Air, Dan Frakes, April 29, 2011
The Zeppelin Air receives an Editor's Choice award from PCMag.com, but reviewer Tim Gideon warns that "serious audiophiles should steer clear" because of the signal processing used to avoid distortion at high volumes. He declares the Zeppelin Air an otherwise "excellent-sounding system," but seems frustrated by the remote's simplicity and minimalist controls.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air, Tim Gideon, March 22, 2011
4. PC World (Australia)
Campbell Simpson misses a display screen to help him navigate the initial AirPlay setup process, but feels that AirPlay capability is still one of the biggest reasons to purchase the Zeppelin Air. He calls the sound quality "excellent" at all volume levels.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air, Campbell Simpson, April 15, 2011
In this less-formal review, Engadget's Trent Wolbe notes that the Zeppelin Air's server "crashed a couple of times during setup," but that in the end it "wasn't a huge hassle." He doesn't like the brief (about two-second) lag between pressing play and hearing his music start streaming, and ends by calling the Zeppelin Air "hard to beat" for an auxiliary system, but too high-priced -- considering the sound quality -- to be a primary system.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Review, Trent Wolbe, May 5, 2011
Pocket-Lint's Libby Plummer calls the Zeppelin Air "reassuringly hefty" but not difficult to move around, and warns that what looks like a carrying handle is actually the iPod cradle. She declares the sound "outstandingly good with a warm, rich tone" that makes it sound like the musicians are in the room with you.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Review, Libby Plummer, April 4, 2011
7. iPod Republic
Daniel Tangen of iPodRepublic.com gives the Zeppelin Air a perfect 5 rating, praising it for an improved inner design that provides better sound dispersion (the exterior retains the distinctive blimp shape). He especially likes that the Zeppelin Air performs well at all volume settings.
Review: B&W Zeppelin Air With Airplay Streaming [Review], Daniel Tangen, Jan. 5, 2011
More than 30 user reviews give the Zeppelin Air an average 4-star rating (out of 5). High points include the sound, distinctive design and good streaming performance; one user remarks that it's hard to tell which end is up for the remote, and a couple of others struggled with the user interface and initial setup.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Wireless AirPlay Speaker Dock, Contributors to Amazon.com