Bowers and Wilkins or B&W is a posh British audio company best known for creating seriously smooth hi-fi equipment. The company produced the speakers that sit inside the Abbey Road studios, so it's fair to say that they're rather good at the old tweeter-and-woofer jive. Now B&W has made a grand, sweeping entrance into the lucrative iPod accessory market with the Zeppelin, a lovingly crafted speaker that retails for a slightly shocking AU$999.95.
Dirigible, elongated football, a tipped-over eye of Sauron — the Zeppelin is sort of like a Rorschach inkblot test in that the way you describe its ovoid shape reflects your own psychology. The designers at B&W were obviously inspired by German airships when drawing up the blueprints, though the decision to align a top-of-the-line audio device with a dirigible fated for disaster is bold to say the least.
Regardless of how you interpret the Zeppelin's form factor, it's a look that will draw attention in any lounge room. The black-clad speaker is sleek and imposing, its heft and lack of buttons adding up to one fine-lookin' piece of audio.
The design of the dock connection is quite nifty; instead of being a rigid dock that traps your iPod between the speakers, the Zeppelin has a spring-loaded arm that allows you to hold the player when it's plugged in.
The ovoid remote fits nicely in the palm, but its tiny identical buttons don't display the same level of creativity that went into the main unit. The piano-black finish and mirrored back draw fingerprints, and the compact size means you're liable to lose the remote between the couch cushions if you're not careful.
The other accessory, a rubber, oval-shaped stand, looks like it was shipped with the wrong product, but everything starts to make sense when you attach it to the base of the speaker. The stand changes the angle of sound projection by tilting the speaker up, allowing songs to be projected into a room instead of toward the floor.