You can also play music wirelessly from any computer with iTunes installed, but the connection guide is slightly more complicated through this avenue: you'll need to hit the Wi-Fi Connect button on the back of the speaker, point your browser to the InAir-Setup home page IP address at http://192.168.1.12, and provide your network information there. I tried both ways and although the latter takes more time, they're both just as simple.
Once you establish a connection with a device, the InAir 5000 will remember the handshake and recognize you the next time you walk into the vicinity. When you're ready to listen to music, just press the up arrow button to the right of your phone's music player and select the speaker.
You may notice that it takes a second or two to buffer your song selections and volume adjustments on your phone or tablet, but you should know that this is a symptom of AirPlay and not the fault of Altec Lansing. That said, if you're a frequent track-changer or simply don't want to spend $499 on a speaker, you'll likely prefer the snappy response of a Bluetooth speaker, if you purchase one with similar sound quality like the SuperTooth Disco or the Bose SoundLink.
If you're looking for a speaker that can blast music throughout your home, the InAir 5000 is a strong choice. Three two-inch drivers power the midrange while two tweeters handle the treble signals and a rear-firing 4-inch subwoofer adds a palpable rumbling sensation to bass tracks that you just don't feel with lightweight Bluetooth speakers.
The draw of AirPlay (and part of the cause of its ambitious price tag) is the lack of audio degradation over its wireless signal, which lets you enjoy music with very little distortion.
Altec Lansing also adds digital signal processing, or DSP, in an effort to enhance sonic effects, prevent blow-outs from low-end stress, and give a sense of three-dimensionality, but the resulting composition can sometimes add an artificial taste that some stereophiles abhor.
On the other hand, it's unlikely that true audiophiles will eagerly embrace a wireless solution for their speakers anyway, so I'll also note that the everyday listener just shopping for a speaker to project a decent sound stage for a dance party or everyday listening will be supremely satisfied with the InAir 5000's sonic performance.
The Altec Lansing InAir 5000 isn't cheap, but it earns high points in sound quality, reliable performance, modest design, and simple installation for shoppers without budget constraints.