Apple's wireless-streaming feature, AirPlay, is starting to gain some traction. And while only a handful of AirPlay-compatible devices are currently available, the selection is growing. Here's a look at current and upcoming AirPlay gear.
Altec Lansing InAir 5000
Altec's upcoming InAir 5000 AirPlay speaker looks like it has some kick to it, with three amps (110 watts total) powering two 1-inch soft-dome tweeters, two 3-inch midrange Kevlar drivers, and one 4-inch woofer with a passive bass radiator.
We asked Altec to include USB ports in its speakers/docks (for charging smartphones) and it's obliged with a USB charging option in this model (there's also an auxiliary input). We're scheduled to get an early listen to this soon, but expect the inAir 5000 to launch sometimes this fall. No word yet on price, but we're guessing $499 while hoping for $399.
Due out in November for $399, the LES Audio Dock Air's most distinct feature is its shape. Weighing 5 pounds, it's not a particularly large speaker, measuring 8.3 x 4.8 x 8.9 inches (HWD). Audyssey is touting its bass prowess that's delivered via two passive 4-inch subwoofers and enhanced with some fancy digital processing. Also stuffed into that little box are two 2-inch midrange woofers, two 1-inch tweeters, and an actual iPhone/iPod dock. There's an analog line input and headphone jack but no optical input like the one found on the company's $199 LES media speakers.
Currently, Apple TV is the only AirPlay device that offers video streaming to your TV. It also allows you to stream photos to your TV or a monitor. AirPlay screen mirroring, which came with iOS 5, opens the possibility of even more interesting video applications.
Back in January, D&M Holdings, the company that owns both Denon and Marantz, announced that several of the companies' receivers were getting AirPlay support. That support is now available for the Denon AVR-A100 ($2,499), AVR-4311CI ($1,999), AVR-3311CI ($1,199), and Denon AVR-991 ($999), among other receivers, as well as the company's RCD-N7 Networked CD Receiver and 2.0 Channel Speaker System (see next slide).
The only catch is that you need to pay $50 to get the firmware upgrade from Denon. However, AirPlay support is included with this year's Denon AVR-1912 ($550), which earned our Editors' Choice Award. It's definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a full-featured midrange receiver.
iHome iW1 AirPlay wireless speaker system (with rechargeable battery)
One of the things the iHome iW1 AirPlay wireless speaker system has going for it is its price $299 price tag, which makes it one of the more inexpensive AirPlay speakers on the market. It's also portable, with an integrated carrying handle and rechargeable battery. The iW1 is part of iHome's higher-end Studio Line, so it features the Bongiovi Acoustics DPS along with "specially tuned woofers and tweeters with a clean, efficient Class-D amplifier."
With its semi-affordable pricing, iHome hopes you'll purchase multiple units and place them in various rooms in your house, though Sonos is going to be a better bet for multiroom audio.
Klipsch's Gallery Series speaker was supposed to roll out this summer, with three AirPlay-compatible models on tap: the Studio, Forum, and Arena. However, the line has undergone some changes and the Studio is now called the G-17 and its price tag has been bumped up from $399 to $549.99, with its release date pushed back.
No, this isn't made by Bang & Olufsen, but Libratone is a Danish company. It has a couple of AirPlay speakers arriving in Europe and the U.S.: the Lounge and Live (see next slide). Both have swanky, minimalist designs, with the longer Lounge designed to be mounted on the wall and work with TVs; the vertical and more affordable Live has a more compact footprint.
The Libratone Live has a satin chrome handle, high-end piano finish, and speaker grilles made of Italian cashmere wool. That's right, cashmere. The Live is available in multiple colors and is due to hit stores in September.
Logitech's Air Speaker has made an appearance on Amazon's U.K. site, so it should officially be announced soon. No word on pricing or availability but it is worth noting that it has a built-in iPod/iPhone dock.
If you're willing to pay a $50 upgrade fee, your Marantz SR7005 receiver, along with its AV7005 preamplifier, M-CR603 Networked CD Receiver, and NA7004 Network Audio Player will also have access to AirPlay.
Philips has jumped into the AirPlay arena with several striking models. The modernist Fidelio SoundSphere speakers are due to arrive first. The higher-end DS9800, which was supposed to hit the U.S. in June for $799.99, is now listed on Amazon as shipping on December 25, 2011.
This is the first midrange receiver we've seen that offers AirPlay support. The $550 VSX-1021-K needs to be connected to your home network for AirPlay to work, and it features an Ethernet port on the back panel. If you don't have Ethernet in your living room, you can also purchase the AS-WL300 Wi-Fi adapter ($150 list price). In addition to its AirPlay capabilities, the VSX-1021-K is also DLNA compatible and has built-in Internet radio support via vTuner.
Pioneer's X-SMC3-S Music Tap AirPlay Music System has quietly slipped into stores for $399.99. It appears to look and sound good, but the reviews haven't been stellar so far. But it's worth checking out.
Sony's portable SA-NS500, which is now shipping (it's $315 on Amazon), has a built-in rechargeable battery that delivers up to 6 hours of battery life. With its conical design, the SA-NS500's allegedly delivers 360-degree sound (four drivers, plus a subwoofer are packed in there).