First Look: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air
About Video Comments (0 ) Transcript

First Look: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air

3:21 /

While the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air is as pricey as the earlier Zeppelin, Apple AirPlay support and improved sound quality make it a better value.

-I'm David Carnoy, Executive Editor for CNET.com, and I'm here with Bowers & Wilkins new iPod speaker system, the Zeppelin Air. This is the 3rd Zeppelin speaker the company has produced and it looks a lot like the original Zeppelin, but offers better sound and one very important new feature--support for Apple's AirPlay. That feature allows you to stream music wirelessly from iOS handheld devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, or from a PC or Mac running iTunes, to the Zeppelin Air via your home network. The Zeppelin Air's design may not appeal to everyone, but it is unique-looking and its build quality is quite good. While the older model had a mirror-polished stainless steel back, this one goes with a polished black back, and the front black cloth covering remains tastefully demure. In the past, better components meant a weightier product, but Bowers & Wilkins has managed to trim the weight while improving the sound. That improvement is mostly due to new drivers, each of which now has a dedicated audiophile class D amplification unit. The previous Zeppelin had 3 amps powering 5 drivers, including a 5-inch bass driver, twin 1-inch tweeters, and two 3.5-inch mid-range drivers. With the new Zeppelin, the tweeter design is borrowed from the company's MM-1 PC speakers and the size of the two mid-range drivers has been trimmed from 3.5 inches to 3 inches. Tucked into the Zepplein Air's curvy rear end, you'll find an Ethernet port, as well as 3.5-mm auxiliary stereo input jack, a USB 2.0 port for PC connectivity and firmware upgrades, and a composite video output for connection to your TV. The Air also boasts built-in Wi-Fi, so you're not limited to wired home networks. And it is worth noting that in addition to accepting standard analog cables, the 3.5-mm input jack also works with optical digital cables. Of course, you can simply use the Zeppelin as an iPhone dock, but the big selling point here is AirPlay. Now, I can't go into all the details of AirPlay playback in this video. You should really read the written review for that. But I will say that once you get past the initial setup, which is fairly straightforward, it's definitely a nice feature that's well worth taking advantage of. Also, the audio quality of the streaming is superior to what you get to Bluetooth, but it did encounter some glitches where the music stopped playing for short periods and even a couple of complete disconnects, so expect a few hiccups. As for performance, the Zeppelin Air sounds bigger than it really is. While I didn't have an original Zeppelin on hand for a direct AB comparison, I definitely think the Zeppelin Air has more bass and plays louder than the old model. It can fill a moderately-sized room with sound. It's a great compact system, though no iPod speaker ever really sounds as good as a pair of decent bookshelf speakers. Is the Zeppelin Air really worth its hefty $600 price tag? Well, let me put it to you this way. The Zeppelin Air costs the same as the original Zeppelin, sounds better, and has AirPlay built in to it. So, while it's still expensive, it does offer significantly more for the money. I'm David Carnoy and that's the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air.

New releases

Foursquare enters a new era of...
2:53 July 24, 2014
With a revamped app and logo, Foursquare focuses on local search and moves check-ins to the new Swarm app....
Play video
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
9:39 July 24, 2014
It's the original BMW SUV, now all-new for its third generation. Brian Cooley takes the BMW X5 xDrive35i out...
Play video
Do you really want an iWatch?
4:32 July 24, 2014
It's an "Ask Brian Anything" email episode where we talk Macs, what he really thinks about the iWatch, Final...
Play video
Porsche 959: Posterchild of the...
10:10 July 24, 2014
If you had posters of cars on your bedroom wall when you were a kid, chances are the Porsche 959 may have...
Play video
Sony Xperia M2 is a sleek, affordable...
2:27 July 24, 2014
Check out our video review of the Sony Xperia M2. It's an affordable Android phone with a 4.8-inch display,...
Play video
How the £100 Nokia points the way...
32:07 July 24, 2014
Microsoft has revealed the cheapest Nokia smartphone yet, but how does the 530 point to the future of Windows...
Play video
The Netgear R8000 Nighthawk X6...
4:47 July 23, 2014
CNET editor Dong Ngo finds the Netgear R8000 Nighthawk X6 Wi-Fi router a hefty investment that doesn't return...
Play video
Can Android do for wearables what...
14:49 July 23, 2014
Google makes a play to be the center of the wearable universe, cars that communicate to each other, and what...
Play video
 

Video discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre