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The Best AirPlay Devices Coming in 2011 (Plus a Few We Hope to See)
First released as part of iOS 4.2 last November, Apple’s new AirPlay technology is potentially one of the most exciting aspects of owning an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad -- assuming you’re willing to wait just a bit while hardware manufacturers play catch up.Despite the initial enthusiasm for AirPlay, things have been relatively quiet since iOS 4.2 was released in November. That’s largely because the Apple TV and AirPort Express are really the only devices that currently take advantage of it -- and even then, the Express is limited to audio only and the Apple TV can only stream video from select apps, including YouTube, Videos (on the iPad) or iPod (on the iPhone and iPod touch).The best is yet to come, as the saying goes, with a number of manufacturers on board to introduce new AirPlay-compatible devices this year and likely many more on the drawing boards. We scoured the internet in the wake of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show to find the best stuff that’s coming, and put on our thinking caps to come up with a few we’re still hoping to see.

iHome iW1, iW2 and iW3Longtime iPod accessory maker iHome was one of the first to announce an AirPlay-compatible speaker system back in September with the iW1. The wireless speaker system features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for “hours of music enjoyment wherever you take it,” while giving owners the best of both worlds by allowing docking (and charging) for your iPhone or iPod as well.While the iW1 was expected back in November to coincide with the release of iOS 4.2, iHome hasn’t actually released the speaker system yet, taking advantage of CES 2011 to fan the flames of consumer interest as well as show off two smaller siblings, the iW2 and iW3. Essentially the same inside, the iW2 features a horizontal design while the iW3 stacks vertically. Unlike their big brother, the new models don’t feature battery power as part of the mix, so they’re meant more for home use, complete with Ethernet ports for non-AirPlay devices.iHome’s iW1 is expected this summer with a $299 price tag (no pricing or availability yet on the smaller models), and all three speaker systems can take advantage of the iHome Connect iOS app for easy network setup, device control and firmware updates.

Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin AirOne of the most exciting AirPlay devices to come out of CES 2011 was the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air, an update to the company’s existing Zeppelin for the iPod. Let’s get the bad news out of the way up front: This is a high-end audio product and as such, it’s got a $600 price tag which might put it out of reach for casual iOS users.However, for those of you with cash to burn, the Zeppelin Air is touted as “the best-sounding iPod dock ever” -- it’s a complete redesign of the original Zeppelin, complete with new 24-bit, 96KHz capacity DACs.In addition to an iOS dock connector, the Zeppelin Air also includes a USB port for syncing with your computer without having to remove your device, as well as streaming audio from any iOS 4.2-compatible iPhone, iPod touch or iPad -- and that includes computers running iTunes 10 as well.Bowers and Wilkins didn’t disclose a release date to go along with that beefy price tag, but encourages interested parties to “register your interest” on their website to get all the news as it breaks.

Klipsch Gallery SeriesKlipsch unleashed the Gallery Series at CES 2011, which the company touts as “the first true cross-over home audio solution, offering users an array of wireless new media sound systems and sleek, minimalist home theater speakers for upgraded, seamless whole-house audio.”The Klipsch Gallery consists of four slim, passive speakers and one of three sound systems -- Gallery STUDIO, Gallery FORUM or Gallery ARENA. According to Engadget, the STUDIO and FORUM “each have slots along the front edge where you can rest your iPhone/iPod/iPad, while the high-end ARENA actually has a 30-pin Dock Connector port as well as a video output.”“Klipsch Gallery's wireless solutions connect wirelessly over an existing Wi-Fi network and can be controlled with an Apple smart device,” the company’s press release elaborates. “Because Klipsch is an official AirPlay partner with Apple, each new media system will utilize AirPlay technology to allow for wireless transmission of users' iTunes libraries throughout any living environment.”The Klipsch Gallery will arrive in late spring or early summer of this year, with prices ranging from $399 for STUDIO to $599 for FORUM and $799 for the high-end ARENA.

JBL On Air WirelessJBL was also among the first speaker manufacturers to announce AirPlay compatibility back in September after Apple announced the technology, and the first fruits of their labor were unveiled in late December -- at least to the FCC.On Air Wireless looks to be a take on the company’s On Air line of speaker docks (many of which also feature alarm clocks), complete with a large color LCD display capable of showing off your album artwork while streaming music. Unfortunately, JBL didn’t debut the AirPlay device at CES 2011 as expected, so the wait continues.

Denon and Marantz ReceiversDenon Electronics and Marantz America were jointly expected to provide AirPlay compatibility to a handful of each company’s home theatre receivers back in October via a free downloadable firmware update, but for whatever reason that didn’t happen until CES 2011 last week.On the bad news front, the firmware patch is no longer a freebie -- it requires a $49.99 “AirPlay upgrade” available from either the Denon or Marantz websites, but that’s a small price to pay for the streaming audio goodness you’ll get to enjoy afterward.Denon’s AirPlay-compatible receivers include the AVR-4311CI and AVR-3311CI as well as the AVR-991, AVR-A100 and the Denon N7 Networked CD Receiver and 2.0 Channel Speaker System. For their part, Marantz is offering the upgrade on four models: The SR7006 receiver, the AV7005 preamp, the NA7004 Network Audio Player and the M-CR603 Networked CD Receiver.For those of you too stubborn to cough up the $49.99, it’s a safe bet that both companies will have new 2011 models to entice you with soon enough, and those will most certainly have AirPlay ready to go out of the box this time around.

PhotoFast AP1000If your need for AirPlay extends beyond the home and into your ride of choice, Japanese manufacturer PhotoFast may very well have you covered with the AP1000 -- a pocketable black box whose sole function in life is to beam incoming AirPlay streams to your car stereo by way of its built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.First discovered by TUAW back in November, the AP1000 doesn’t offer much for owners of newer cars with built-in Bluetooth audio streaming, but for the rest of us with older automobiles, it could be just the ticket. Unfortunately, PhotoFast doesn’t yet have any U.S. distribution in place and there’s been nary a word on price, so it could be a bit of a wait before this one lands on our shores.

Joining the AirPlay PartyWhile all of the products shown at CES 2011 offer an exciting look into the future, there are a surprising number of AirPlay-compatible devices still missing. That’s likely to change soon, if Jordan Watters has anything to say about it.Watters is the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for BridgeCo, the company who makes the silicon responsible for Apple’s AirPlay technology under an exclusive arrangement (at least for now). BridgeCo actually has a decade of experience under its belt delivering networked media processors, which Watters is using to leverage more AirPlay partners yet to come.According to Engadget, Watters believes that AirPlay devices could “ultimately dwarf ‘Made for iPad’ docks” by two to four times, mostly because the necessary iOS technology is already right there in the palm of users’ hands. The better news is that many BridgeCo chips already on the market can add AirPlay functionality with a software update -- which is how Denon and Marantz have managed to make the magic happen.“The ecosystem is already there,” Watters told Engadget, enthusiastically predicting that consumers will be more likely to purchase multiple AirPlay devices for each iOS device sold when compared to the current adoption rate of one iPod dock per device.One manufacturer who has surprisingly sat out AirPlay compatibility thus far is Sony, who has historically been a ready, willing and able supplier for a variety of iPod docks. Not only is Sony sitting out the initial round of AirPlay devices, they inexplicably created their own version of wireless streaming called “HomeShare,” which will require compatible hardware to be released in March as well as an iPhone or Android app to control them.

What We Hope to See in 2011While the Apple TV is great for AirPlay in the home and the price is right at only $99, it would certainly be nice to also see AirPlay extended to other devices we might already own -- perhaps Roku boxes, internet-connected televisions or even game consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.However, the first thing Apple will need to do is to extend AirPlay video playback to apps other than their own YouTube, Videos and iPod software -- but that can easily be done with an iOS update yet to come (along with the required API for developers to tap into). Perhaps the most perplexing lack of AirPlay is the Photos app, especially now that the iPhone and iPod touch are capable of such great HD video recording -- yet owners of these devices can’t stream them to their TV via AirPlay without first importing them to iPhoto and syncing them back via iTunes, which seems decidedly un-Apple.The most obvious choice for technology like AirPlay is within the audio system of your car -- despite an onslaught of new vehicles with Bluetooth streaming, AirPlay would seem like a natural for after-market auto accessory makers to add to their lineup this year.We’d also be quite happy to see AirPlay land in DVD … [more]
airplay  Airport_Express  Apple_TV  CES  ces2011  Features  hardware  iOS_4.2  iPad  iPhone  iPod  Mac  speakers  Listen  from google
january 2011 by pclaypool
Iomega Personal Cloud devices host your data, not your water vapor
Finally, a new flavor of Iomega that the EMC fanboys can find palatable. The bigger company consumed the smaller back in 2008 and, while we've seen plenty of products since then, none have really brought the two together like the new Personal Cloud edition of the Home Media Network Hard Drives. In theory, anyway. The idea here is that this is a smart NAS, creating your own little puff and hosting your data for general availability but avoiding the "careless computing" curse by retaining control of your data. It'll naturally play nice with the new Iomega TV and, if you buy two of the things, you can have one perform an automated remote backup to the other. That's the sort of feature that should make a tight-budgeted IT manager's ears perk up. How tight? The first two models of Iomega's Home Media Network Hard Drive Cloud Edition devices launch this month: 1TB for $169.99 and twice that for $229.99.
Gallery: Iomega Personal Cloud press shots
Continue reading Iomega Personal Cloud devices host your data, not your water vapor
Iomega Personal Cloud devices host your data, not your water vapor originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 04 Jan 2011 11:22:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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january 2011 by pclaypool

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