Like opening a pack of brand new Crayons, the preview press images of the newly unveiled Libratone Zipp revealed a rainbow of colors wrapped around Airplay wireless technology (in Italian wool, mind you) specifically designed to partner up with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for use in and outside of the home...
The larger sibling, Libratone Live
, impressed us with its fashionable design and extremely easy to set-up Airplay compatibility, and it looks like Libratone has miniaturized a similar experience into a more travel-friendly form factor (it's smaller, but there's still a 4" woofer and two 1" tweeters inside).
The Libratone Zipp adds a new ballyhooed feature offering superior wireless audio compared to its Bluetooth competition and easier connectivity setup: PlayDirect.
Libratone PlayDirect creates a direct Wi-Fi connection between your speaker and any compatible device, making it possible to stream your audio from iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or computer without the need for an in-home Wi-Fi connection. Libratone PlayDirect allows you to play your music everywhere! PlayDirect is wireless sound out of the box.
PlayDirect is a Libratone feature designed to make wireless streaming unlimited and easy to use. Consequently, PlayDirect needs no prior set-up. When you have a speaker and a compatible music device at hand you are good to go. Just go to your Wi-Fi connections and choose the "Libratone" network on your device. Then press the AirPlay icon and hit Play in the music player menu.
If it's even simpler than our memory of the larger Live setup, then we'll be impressed. The Zipp's battery is good for 8 hours when connected to a wired connection, but only 4 wirelessly. We hope to followup with a hands-on review once the Zipp is available for testing, to see how it stacks up against other portable wireless audio competitors like the Geneva XS and Jawbone Jambox.
Libratone's vibrant newest edition will be available in Apple stores and other retailers in late October for a $399 standard one-color model or $449 for a expanded edition with a speaker with 3 additional color sleeves for changing things up (individual Zipp speaker covers are available for $49 in a wide range of colors).