Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air
Key Features
• AirPlay-compatible (requires Wi-Fi network)
• Remote control
• 5-inch woofer
• (2) 3-inch midrange drivers
• (2) 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters
• Amplifier: 50-watts (woofer); 4 x 25-watts (midrange drivers/tweeters)
• Inputs: iPod/iPhone dock; 3.5mm stereo mini jack with analog and optical digital; LAN and USB 2.0 ports
• Output: composite video
• 6.8 x 25.2 x 8.2 in; 13.5 lb

From its launch in 2007, the original Zeppelin from Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) quickly established itself as one of the best sounding — albeit most unusual looking — iPod audio systems around. Now B&W has upped the ante with the third version of its Zeppelin (the second was the smaller Zeppelin Mini), adding several new features along with improved audio performance.

The hip retro-modern styling and top-shelf luxurious fit and finish are carried over from the original Zeppelin, but under the skin you get more amplifier power, an upgraded digital to analog converter, and — most importantly — the ability to stream audio wirelessly from your Apple iDevice or computer using Apple’s AirPlay. This means that you no longer have to actually put your iPod in the Zeppelin’s dock; instead, you can keep it at hand for easy control of music selections.

The Zeppelin Air comes with a small, pebble-shaped remote that lets you control basic functions like power, volume, input, and track-skip. This is useful if you plan to plug a Nano or iPod into the dock. However, when using AirPlay you’ll find that your iDevice or computer can handle all of these functions (and more).