Libratone’s Zipp is a another AirPlay speaker, only this one has a couple of twists. The most obvious difference between this and the Big Jambox (its closest competitor) is the colorful wool felt cover. The other difference is in how it connects: The Zipp creates its own Wi-Fi access point.
The felt covers wrap around the cylindrical Zipp and can be changed by zipping them on and off (hence the name I guess). You can pay either $400 for a single color or $450 for a kit with a whole range of different wooly jackets.
But the most important thing in a $400 speaker is the quality of the sound. Libratone has packed in a 4-inch bass driver and a pair of 1-inch ribbon tweeters, and these work in conjunction with a 60-watt amp. You can play music from any source via AirPlay, or you can use the Libratone app which lets you shape the sound and tune it to your room.
The Wi-Fi is the real gimmick here though. Most speakers use Bluetooth for AirPlay, but the Zipp goes for Wi-Fi. This cuts down battery life (just four hours use, vs. eight hours if you use a cable), and also introduces a delay, making it useless for gaming.
When you’re at home, you can connect to your existing network, but if you want to use the Zipp’s own Wi-Fi access point then you can take advantage of a neat trick: plug in your iPhone via USB and the Zipp will transfer its network settings across for you. Clever.
At this price, I’d likely opt to spend $300 on an old second hand amp and big bookshelf speakers, plus an AirPort Extreme or Apple TV for AirPlay. But then, I have an apartment permanently choked with Bluetooth speakers in various stages of testing.