Libratone Zipp Portable Speaker

Libratone has announced what it claims is the first and only device to deliver AirPlay connectivity without requiring a Wi-Fi network: the Libratone Zipp portable speaker.

Using the company’s new PlayDirect™ technology, the Libratone Zipp creates its own direct connection between any compatible device (such as an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or iTunes-equipped computer) making it a versatile addition to your next camping trip, beach party, or trudge through the woods. Stylish touches like a selection of fuzzy wool covers and a leather loop handle support this outdoorsy aesthetic, looking right at home alongside all of your camping gear and sporting paraphernalia.

From an output perspective, the Libratone Zipp features the company’s FullRoom™ technology, which arranges the 2.1 configuration to disperse sound in all directions through the unit’s single 4″ bass and pair of 1″ tweeters (for a total output of 60 Watts). A rechargeable battery should keep the tunes playing for four hours when streaming, and eight hours with a direct connection. Additional connectivity options include a USB port, and a 3.5 mm audio minijack for analog sound.

To keep things interesting, you can change up the look of your Libratone Zipp by slapping on a new Italian wool cover, available separately in a range of colors: Salty Grey, Pepper Black, Pineapple Yellow, Raspberry Red, Passion Pink, Plum Purple, Petrol Blue and Icy Blue.

Priced at $399, the Libratone Zipp will be available this October. For more info, check it out at Libratone.

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5 Responses to Libratone Zipp Portable Speaker

  1. Ryan September 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Pioneer Electronics actually announced this before Libratone. In June, they released their wireless speakers with “Wireless Direct” — same idea — a direct connection between the speaker and your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch without the need for a Wi-Fi network. AirPlay anywhere.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Pioneer employee :)

    • Tom September 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      Libratone PlayDirect should not be confused with Pioneer’s Wireless Direct feature.

      Libratone PlayDirect is the first full WiFi access point implementation built into an AirPlay-enabled active speaker system. The market has seen a few limited early implementations (amo. from Pioneer and Klipsch) of an AdHoc mode (point-to-point WiFi) where AirPlay speaker systems were allowed to play music from one source when the systems rebooted into setup mode. Pioneer states in their manual that a reboot into ‘Wireless Direct’ mode takes approx. 30-40 secs and that a power off is needed to revert to normal network settings.

      The PlayDirect implementation in Libratone Zipp differs in several ways to this functionality:

      PlayDirect is a full and intelligent WiFi access point implementation which easily can be selected by a user when an external WiFi network is not available. Once selected Libratone Zipp scans the WiFi band for the best available channel where traffic is light so optimum performance can be delivered even in WiFi-traffic dense environments.

      Libratone Zipp broadcasts its SSID and is available for multiple sources to connect to it at the same time. Furthermore Libratone Zipp handles all addressing services as a WiFi access point and the optimum signal path is monitored and selected throughout the connection by use of a diversity antenna array.

      When back in range of the users normal WiFi network the Libratone Zipp can revert smoothly to this network with the already stored WiFi settings by simply selecting the WiFi button on the Zipp. Switching time between PlayDirect and normal AirPlay mode on the Libratone Zipp is only 12-13 secs.

      For a social speaker like the Libratone Zipp this gives an array of new possibilities as the speaker can act as a real Jukebox by connecting e.g. a computer with iTunes to it in PlayDirect mode. By sharing the iTunes library this enables multiple iOS users to also connect to the Libratone Zipp and use it as a Jukebox through the Remote app.

      This also enables a full iTunes library to be accessed from an iOS device without any stored music content; all in an environment without WiFi coverage, because the Zipp handles this through PlayDirect.

      And, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a Libratone employee :-)

  2. TRicX October 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    For both the Libratone and Pioneer solution I guess one will not be able to access the phone carriers data network on an iPhone whilst directly connected to the speakers over their respective direct modes? As those Wifi connections “overrule” the 3G connection (etc)?!
    At home this is of course no problem as one could just connect via “normal” airplay over the local wifi network (with internet connected) there, but on-the-go one would prefer a direct solution which streams the sound without shutting out the carriers data network. Kind of like bluetooth, but with airplays advantages. Lets hope Apple’s rumoured Airplay Direct materialise, and has such features!

  3. Ryan October 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Tom, thanks for your reply.

    I don’t disagree with you that there are differences in the way Pioneer and Libratone have implemented this technology. My point still stands that Libratone falsely claims the Zipp to be, (quoted from Libratone’s press release) “the first and only device to deliver the performance and convenience of AirPlay without the need for a Wi-Fi network…”

    Zipp was not the first, and is not the only device to offer this benefit. Pioneer’s SMA line does exactly this and it was announced in June.

  4. Patrick January 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    AQ Audio has already since some time this feature (direct streaming with wifi network, i.e. speaker builds their own wireless network where iDevices can log in) in their AQ smartspeaker. Great speaker by the way and reasonably priced

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