Review: Arcam rCube Page 4

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BOTTOM LINE

I really enjoyed the time I spent with the rCube, and if you're looking for a dead-simple, all-in-one solution for streaming audio from that's also portable - you should probably give this thing a listen.

The big question for most consumers considering the rCube is whether it's worth the $200 premium you'll pay over it's closest actually existing competitor, the Zeppelin Air? They're both great-sounding units from pedigreed firms, and both will play video from a connected iPod. The Zeppelin, of course, supports wireless streaming from Macs and iOS devices over AirPlay right out of the box.

So what does the iCube bring to the party that B&W doesn't? And is that worth the hassle (and additional expense) of dongles, especially for streaming from iOS devices and Macs that already have built in Wi-Fi (dongle, schmongle!), and support AirPlay?

Kleer's wireless protocol evolved as a competitor for Bluetooth A2DP (most Kleer offerings are wireless headphones), not Wi-Fi, and Kleer offers lossless transmission (as does AirPlay) at power levels even lower (1/5 to 1/10 the requirements, say Kleer) than Bluetooth's.

And Kleer, like Sonos' SonosNet, streams audio outside of your Wi-Fi network, so your music won't be competing with everyday network services. And as an added bonus, the dongle brings wireless access to your iPod classic (and even some older models; my 5th generation "video" iPod played nicely with the rDevices).

The decision really comes down to whether you need a good sounding and easily portable system. The rCube's rechargeable battery (along with its small size and nifty carrying handle) makes a pretty compelling argument in that case. If you do a lot of outdoor entertaining, or want something you can take with you to the garage or wherever else, the rCube makes a lot of sense. You're not tied to an outlet, you can pass the rWand dongle around between iPhones and iPods, streaming lossless files for hours and hours without blowing through your batteries. And it looks good doing it.

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