Best AirPlay speakers for iOS devices [Gift Guide 2012]

Summary:One of the coolest accessories for audiophile iDevice owners are AirPlay speakers which allow you to stream music to the speaker anywhere in your home or office, so long as it is on the same Wi-Fi network as your iDevice.

Given that this holiday season is likely to belong to Apple, and that millions of iPhones, iPads, and iPad minis are going to be under Christmas trees the world over, accessories for Apple devices are going to be very popular.

One of the coolest accessories for audiophile iDevice owners are AirPlay speakers. Using Apple's AirPlay protocol, you can stream music to a speaker anywhere in your home or office, as long as it is on the same Wi-Fi network as your iDevice.

So, why pick AirPlay speakers over Bluetooth-enabled speakers, or a traditional dock? There are a number of good reasons to do so.

First, while a Bluetooth hardware is pretty good, sound quality can suffer if the iDevice is not close to the speaker. Walls and electronic devices such as TVs can cause interference and a reduction is audio quality. AirPlay's Wi-Fi connection is far more robust, which means that it takes a lot more to ruin the audio experience.

AirPlay also does a lot more than transmit audio; it also beams track metadata, such as the artist, album, and song title, to the speaker.

Finally, if you're happy with the iTunes ecosystem, then AirPlay speakers allow you to listen to your music no matter where it is stored -- iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch, or even a PC or Mac via iTunes.

Finally, if you have a new iDevice featuring the Lightning dock connector, then you're going to have to take the wireless route because currently there aren't any docks that make use of the new proprietary connector.

Before I go on to show you three of the best AirPlay speakers, one last thing -- they aren't cheap. If you want cheap, AirPlay speakers aren't for you.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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