Tag Archives: Airplay

Libratone Zipp Wireless Speaker Review

I first came across Libratone at the The Gadget Show earlier in the year where their colourful hi-fi speakers with interchangeable covers stood out against the more run-of-the-mill Bluetooth speakers. On the back of my interview, Libratone kindly sent me a Zipp, a portable wireless AirPlay speaker, to further my education in their products. Let’s take a look and a listen.

Libratone Zipp Box

The Libratone Zipp is very much fashioned in iStyle but takes a welcome break from monochrome with interchangeable coloured covers. The Zipp comes with three covers in the box from three collections and the supplied Zipp came with the “Funky collection” – pepper black, plum purple and pineapple yellow. Additional covers are £39 which may seem expensive but the covers aren’t felt or fleece, they’re Italian wool. Here’s the Zipp in its different clothes.

Libratone Zipp Magenta

Libratone Zipp Mustard Strap

Changing a cover is easy – just unzip the cover, carefully remove it, fit the the new cover and zip it back up. There’s a small frame which fits around the control panel but it clips in firmly and helps get everything lined up. The panel’s neatly hidden behind the leather carry strap.

Libratone Zipp Mustard Strap Up

As a wireless speaker, the Zipp uses wifi rather than Bluetooth to stream music and until relatively recently, you would have needed Apple products to use AirPlay. Android users can now join the party as the Zipp now provides a DLNA interface which several music apps now support including Robin Davis’ 2player, which I used for this review. Sadly, many don’t, including Spotify, which is a shame.

The speaker can work in two modes, DirectPlay and WiFi Play. In the first, the speaker creates its own little wifi hotspot and the smartphone or tablet connects to the hotspot. This mode is used both for initial configuration and for playing music away from home, say, at a friend’s BBQ. With the WiFi Play mode, the Zipp connects to the same wifi network as the music-playing device, which is the way you’d use the Zipp at home.

Setting up the Zipp is a little fiddly but otherwise straightforward and only needs to be done once. Libratone’s free app helps with this but the steps are broadly turn on the Zipp, connect to the Zipp’s wifi hotspot, enter the main wifi key and restart the Zipp. It’ll then connect up to the main wifi network and the speaker will be available for music output.

Libratone App 2player Erasure

Obviously the Zipp is only a single unit, although it has an amazing capacity to fill a room. Libratone have developed a set of acoustic tricks called “FullRoom” which let the Zipp’s tweeters and drivers expand the sound, but you need to tell the Zipp where it is in the room to take full advantage. The Libratone app helps with that too. You can hear the impact of some of the changes if you fiddle with the settings while music is playing but much of the change is subtle.

Voicing Position

In addition to setting the spatial characteristics, the type of music can be enhanced through preset equalisations such as “Easy Listening” and “Rock the House”.

Aside from the interchangeable covers, the other cool feature is that the Zipp is portable and has a built-in battery which Libratone says will last about 4 hours playing music over wifi and twice as long using a cable. I didn’t try running the Zipp very long from a lead but the time seems about right for wifi. The Libratone app helpfully shows the battery level so you know when to recharge. There’s a small bag included in the box but Libratone could do with a dedicated Zipp carrying bag as it’s heavy to lug around – it’s portable but it’s not a travel accessory.  I liked the liberty that this gave as I moved the Zipp between rooms and was able to have music in rooms that didn’t normally have sound without using headphones.

Libratone Zipp Panel Libratone Zipp Top Control

The pictures above show the panel on the side and the top-mounted controller. The USB port on the side-panel can be used to power the music player (and for configuration when using Apple devices) when using the 3.5mm jack for the audio feed.

Generally the Zipp worked well. I did have the occasional problem with the Zipp not being recognised either as an output option in the 2player app or by the Libratone app when trying to change the FullRoom config. Usually a restart of either the app or the Zipp itself would sort it out but it’s a bit irritating when the dropout occurs halfway through an album. To be fair, the issue could lie with my wifi network or with the music app itself and I’ve no experience with other AirPlay devices for comparison. For now, it’s something to be aware of.

As a reminder, Android users needs to confirm that the apps that they want to use with the Zipp are AirPlay or DLNA-compatible. Unlike Bluetooth speakers, where the driver is at lower level and makes almost any app capable of outputting sound to a wireless speaker, the apps needs to be DLNA-aware to use the Zipp wirelessly. Searching the Play Store reveals several good apps that can be checked for full compatibility.

So….does the Zipp sound good? In short, it’s very impressive with music retaining clarity and detail even at higher volumes and the Zipp has a surprising amount of volume for such a small unit. Obviously any single speaker unit is going to be lacking in comparison with hi-fi separates but the Zipp knocks into a cocked hat any of the speaker docks that I’ve heard. Finally, it’s absolutely, definitely the best portable speaker that I’ve ever listened to. At GB£369, it’s not cheap but if you have a bijou pad that needs filled with sound, you should give the Zipp a listen. It looks great too.

Thanks to Libratone for the loan of the Zipp.

XBMC and AirPlay

I have an Apple TVand iPad. One of my favorite things is the ability to take a video that’s on my iPad and then send it over to the Apple TV by using AirPlay. Let’s face it some videos are better on a bigger screen. Plus everything sounds much better on the Apple TV, which is connected to my sound system than it does on the iPad. The problem is I only have one Apple TV and there are times when I’m sitting up late at night and looking at my iPad and I see a video that I want to see on my large screen TV in the bedroom. To that TV I have attached a Mac Mini which I use as a media center. As part of that media center I installed Banana TV to AirPlay my videos from my iPad to that Mac Mini. However Banana TV no longer works with the iOS 5 update.

My favorite media center application is XBMC. XBMC is a free open source cross-platform media center. It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Apple TV and many other devices. XBMC is highly customizable thru the many add-ons that are available. As a media center it was great however without Banana TV there was no way to get my video from my iPad to my Mac Mini, until now. XBMC has just gotten an the official update from Dhama to Eden and with this update AirPlay from the iPad to the Mac has become available. If you already have XBMC than go ahead and update to Eden. If you don’t have XBMC you can download it at the website. Once you’ve either updated or downloaded it, you want to go into Systems, then Network and then Services and tap down until you see where it says allow AirPlay and click enable. Now you can AirPlay videos from an iPad to a Mac, PC or Linux machine. There is one caveat it does not work with videos that have DRM installed, despite this caveat I am really glad this update has occurred.

Skifta by Qualcomm

Qualcomm which is known for its silicon and wi-fi technology for handsets and tablets is spreading into software and service. One of the consumer products they are currently developing is called Skifta. It is a media shifting platform which works through  DLNA-certified and UPnP -compatible devices. DLNA protocol has been around for about eight years. Most TVs today which are over 36 inches and Internet enable are DLNA capable. The Web site of your TV’s manufacture should let you know if your TV is DLNA capable. DLNA is a nonprofit trade organization which enables the sharing of digital media between various consumer devices by defining interoperability guidelines. Because DLNA is a nonprofit organization they don’t have the money to spend on advertising and promotion, so its adoption has been slow but steady. The growth of the Smart or Connected TV market has help to increase its popularity over the last 12-18 months. Its biggest rival is Apple’s Air Play.

Qualcomm was showing off its software platform Skifta at CES 2012, which works with the DLNA platform. Think of Skifta as Airplay for Android. Once Skifta is installed on your Android device, it will go out and find any DLNA enabled device including TV’s, computers and the Playstation. You can then sending any media that is available on your network to that device. Skifta also gives you access to various Internet providers including Revision3, Ted Talks, Facebook and others.

Qualcomm is also developing a Skifta audio adapter which you attach to a receiver that is not DLNA enable and enable it. They are also making a DLNA platform that can be installed easily by the manufacture into a receiver. I installed the Skifta application on my Android phone and it almost immediately connected and found the media on my network. Once I set up an account it also let me pick up media from Revision3 and Ted Talks among others. Unfortunately I don’t have a connected TV, so for me its use is limited, but I love its possibilities.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Steve Lee Wave of Tech

Support my CES 2020 Sponsor:
$0.01 GoDaddy coupon for a New domain name cjcfs3geek
$1.99 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$2.99 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Support the show by becoming a Geek News Central Insider

Philips Introduces New AirPlay Line

AirPlay is a standard introduced by Apple, but it has been picked up by many audio hardware makers to get their products integrated with the Apple and iTunes ecosystem.  Philips is introducing a whole new line of AirPlay-compatible products from entry-level all the way up to the high-end of audio.

Philips has a stand-alone speaker with built-in WiFi and a WPS button to easily connect to your home router and you can control them through an app of your PC, Mac, or mobile device.  They are also introducing a new pair of headphones that are towards the high-end of this category as they made from premium materials like leather, memory foam, and have a durable, cloth-lined wire.  You can see both products in the video below and also visit Philips online to get more info.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Support my CES 2020 Sponsor:
$0.01 GoDaddy coupon for a New domain name cjcfs3geek
$1.99 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$2.99 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Support the show by becoming a Geek News Central Insider

Apple TV 2 Review

Today I picked up an Apple TV. The setup was simple just plug in the power cord and then connect an HDMI cable from the Apple TV to a HD monitor. You do have to buy the HDMI cable separately. At that point you either have to connect an Ethernet cable to hard wire it, or connect it to your wireless network. If you have a network password like mine this can be tedious using the remote that comes with the Apple TV, thank goodness you only have to do it once. The next thing I did was turn on home sharing, so I can watch movies that are on my network thru my Apple TV. This reminded me that I do have some videos that need to be convert to the correct format. I will probably use Handbrake to do that. I also need to go back and enter better metadata, I am getting unknown video a lot.

One of the reasons I picked up an Apple Tv was to use AirPlay with it and my iPad (version 1) and iPhone 4. It worked perfectly with the iPad, I love having the ability to send videos from my iPad and then watch them on a big screen. However, I work on my iPad a lot, so I wanted to make sure the iPhone also worked with AirPlay. At first I tried using AirPlay with Showyou a video application I had on my iPhone and it didn’t work. I thought maybe it didn’t work thru Showyou, so I tried it thru the YouTube and it still wasn’t working. In fact I wasn’t even seeing the AirPlay icon at all. I double checked and they were both on the same network, which I knew could be a problem. I finally found the answer on the Apple Forum, I power the iPhone down completely and then restarted it and then AirPlay worked.

So far after using the Apple TV for only a couple of hours I really like it and am glad I purchased it. I did have the original Apple TV and I jail broke it and now I am deciding if I want to jailbreak this one. If you have a jail broken Apple TV 2, I would like to know why you did it, did you run into any problems doing it and do you like the results.

GNC #700 Party Going on Here

I give lots of Prizes away and also a chance to win some very exclusive prints from a cool artist. Listen to win and join me for a trip down memory lane, we kick it off old school with some intros that we have used in bygone years. Nearly 7 years of podcasting excellence all made possible by all of the Ohana that subscribe and listen to this show.

Big Thanks to Our Executive Producer Jack Ellis for all his work on all of our shows!

Support my Show Sponsor: 5 Best Godaddy Promo Codes
$0.01 GoDaddy coupon for a New domain name cjcfs3geek
$1.99 a month Economy Hosting with a free domain name. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$2.99 a month Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain name. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Support the show by becoming a Geek News Central Insider

Subscribe Today:  Audio Video (HD) |  Mobile Video iTunes |  Zune
Download the Show File

Follow me on Google+
Follow @geeknews on Twitter
Geek News Central Facebook Page
Purchase GNC gear from the Ohana Store!
Show Hotline 24/7 1-619-342-7365 or e-mail geeknews@gmail.com







Listener Links:
Facebook and 1 Trillion Page Views

Show Links:
Irenes Wrath on Cell Towers.
Traders made it to work.
Google+ Ranking Articles/Sites?
Glue Veins Together.
Gibson Guitar under Attack.
Rural British to get Internet.
Windows 8 UI Leak?
Cyberlockers the new P2P?
Pirate Bay to BayFiles ;)
Snoop and Get Hired.
Comet gets Wacked by Sun.
Abandon Ship?
iZon Net Connected Cam.
Google+ adds Ignore.
Alexa and Compete Worthless.
Gadget Ice Trays.
Airplay gives Apple Boost!
iTunes TV Rentals RIP.
Cool DVD preview App.
4 Keyloggers for Mac’s.
iPhone Volume Tricks.
Apple Store Security.
Severe Weather Tips.
Magellan Roadmate Review.
ToughTech with AES Security.
Linksys RE1000 Review.
Mophie gets me Again.
Bluetrek Headset.
CardMunch for iPhone.
Engadget Contest Rules.
Crazy Chatbots.
iCloud getting closer.
Eric Schmidt + Brits + Google TV = Hmmmm
More Google TV Devices.
OnStar Remote Link.
Explorer Updated in Windows 8.
Don’t Mess with Texas?

Boxee on the iPad

Today Aug 9, 2011 Boxee released Boxee for the iPad. This allows you to play videos from the home screen of Boxee on your iPad and also local video which are on the same wireless network. After you install Boxee on the iPad and sign in, you will see your Boxee home screen, which shows the videos your friends are sharing with you, videos you have saved for later and the Boxee feature videos. At this time you can not play Boxee Apps on the iPad. If you want to play local video files you need to down load the Boxee Media Server to your computer. This is where I ran into my first glitch, according to the system requirement it should run on any Intel Mac running 10.5 and above. However when I tried to install it on my Mac Mini core duo, running Snow Leopard, I received an error message stating it couldn’t run on the machine. It did install fine on my MacBook running Intel Core 2 running Lion. I did send a support ticket to Boxee, but haven’t heard back yet. I did look at the Boxee forum and it appears I am not the only one with the problem. Once the Boxee Media Server is installed to your computer, you can add your media files by clicking on preferences. By default it will add your My Movies folder if you are running it on a Mac.  To add additional folders click on the plus button. I had no problem adding my video folders that are stored on external hard drive attached to my Airport Extreme.

Videos directly from Boxee played and sounded great. However, when I went to play local videos there was no sound. In fact the volume rocker was not working at all. The first thing I did was a full shut down of the iPad and then a restart. That didn’t fix the problem. Then I went into Settings and then General and for some reason decided to switch my side rocker from where it locks the  iPad rotation to where it works as the mute button. Surprisingly that fixed the problem, although I have no idea why. So far it has played all video formats I have sent to it without any problems. You can send your videos to your TV using Air Play if you have an Apple TV or Boxee Box attached. If you use a Mac Mini as a media server you can use Banana TV to send videos from Boxee on the iPad to the monitor.

The Boxee Media server also works with Window XP, Vista and Windows 7, at this time it is not available for Linux. I haven’t been using Boxee on the iPad long since it just came out, but so far I like it. It will be interesting to see if they add the ability to view video apps on the iPad, I suspect the hold is due to licensing issues rather than technical ones.

Update: Aug 11-  Received answer back from Boxee on the Mac Mini  issue, and unfortunately the Boxee Media Server only works on 64 bit machines, so it will not work on that machine which is 32 bit.