The Good Seriously sleek, high-end iPod stereo speaker; three-way stereo system with two 1-inch tweeters, two 3.5-inch midrange drivers and one 5-inch woofer; 100 watts of power; mirror-polished stainless steel cabinet with black cloth grille; matching remote control; video output for hookup to a TV.
The Bad Very expensive; sounds better on acoustic music than bass-heavy genres such as rock and hip-hop; rubberized mounting stand seems better-suited to a cheaper product; light on features.
The Bottom Line The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin effectively combines substantial build quality and detailed sound--but you're still paying a hefty premium for the iPod speaker's stunning good looks.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
Editors' Note: As of November 2009, Bowers & Wilkins has released a smaller, less costly stepdown version of this product known as the Zeppelin Mini. As of March 2011, Bowers & Wilkins has released the Zeppelin Air, an updated version of this product that adds compatibility with Apple AirPlay at no extra charge. The Zeppelin Air fully replaces the model reviewed here.
Let's face it: as a category iPod speakers are a pretty uninspired lot. Their plastic, boxy, and sometimes downright awful industrial design flies in the face of the iPod's masterful aesthetic and intuitive ergonomics. Until now, that is. Bowers & Wilkins' curvaceous Zeppelin iPod speaker is as every bit as sophisticated as Apple's iconic player. Best of all, the Zeppelin isn't all show--its detailed sound largely lives up to B&W's high-end reputation (at least when we played acoustic music). So sure, it's one of the most expensive iPod speakers you can buy, but it may well be worth it, especially if you fall in love with the Zeppelin's looks.
Unpacking the Zeppelin, we couldn't help but be impressed with its build quality: the speaker's entire backside is constructed out of mirror-polished stainless steel, the front black cloth covering is tastefully demure. A LED indicator lights up from behind the grille to keep you informed of the Zeppelin's operational status: it glows red in standby mode, yellow as the unit powers up from standby; green when the Aux input is selected; white as the Zeppelin's volume approaches its maximum setting. The speaker's power and volume controls are embedded in the stainless trim piece just above the iPod. Suffice it to say, the overall package is just plain gorgeous--another fruitful pairing up of B&W and London's Native Design Ltd.
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