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Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Wireless Drops Dock, Adds Bluetooth

Bowers & Wilkins has updated its zeppelin -shaped Wi-Fi/AirPlay speaker in a big way.

The $699 Zeppelin Wireless keeps Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay, but it has droped Apple’s Lightning dock in favor of Bluetooth.  

By adding Bluetooth, the speaker will now play back music streamed from Bluetooth-equipped Android, Windows and BlackBerry mobile devices, whereas AirPlay enables Wi-Fi playback of music from iPhones, iPads and iPods.

By dropping the dock, the company recognized consumer preference for keeping their smartphone close at hand even when at home.

The product is also the company’s first Wi-Fi/AirPlay speaker with an embedded music service: Spotify Connect.

Like the $599 Zeppelin Air that it replaces, the Zeppelin Wireless features built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet.

To improve upon the sound quality of Bluetooth’s SBC codec, Bowers & Wilkins incorporated AptX and AAC streaming over Bluetooth. Also to cater to the performance-minded, the speaker up-samples all audio inputs to 192kHz/24 bits.

The speaker features two tweeters, two midrange drivers and a 6.5-inch subwoofer. Power output is rated at 4×25 watts plus 1×50 watts. It’s said to offer twice the DSP processing power of its predecessor to further enhance sound. A control app controls volume and playback functions.

The Zeppelin Wireless is available now through the Bowers & Wilkins web site, and it will appear in stores Oct. 15.

The company’s other Wi-Fi/AirPlay speakers are the $799 A7, $499 A5, and $199 Z2. The latter also features a Lightning dock.