Based on looks alone, the article introducing you to the Libratone family of Bluetooth and WiFi speakers proclaimed that Libratone has turned a lifestyle product into a Life with Style product. Now, after living with a Deep Lagoon-colored Zipp Mini for a couple weeks, a period of time more than sufficient to get past the superficial and into the good stuff, it can be stated, without equivocation, that Libratone products, and especially the Zipp Mini, are so much more than just good looking. Just under the cool restraint of the Scandinavian-designed exterior is an impressive feat of audio and radio engineering.
The 8.8” tall Zipp mini is only miniature when compared to the 10” tall Zipp. The same holds true for the sound that comes out if the Zipp Mini. With a Class D amplifier, 60-watts of total power, and adaptive DSP sound optimization, the Zipp Mini is more than likely bigger, better sounding, and more powerful than any Bluetooth speaker you currently own.
There is, however, more to the Zipp Mini than just Bluetooth connectivity. It supports 2.4 & 5GHz, 802.11 b/g/n/ WiFi, as well as Apple’s Airplay. It also features a speakerphone with noise cancelling microphones and the ability to store up to five Internet radio presets which can be accessed via the simple touch interface at the top of the Zipp Mini.
Connecting to the Zipp Mini, whether by WiFi or Bluetooth is dead easy (the Libratone app is required for WiFi connectivity). Both connections were accomplished without taking a look at the owner’s manual, and both deliver flawless connectivity and streaming. Over the past couple weeks of testing, the Zipp Mini has done double duty as both a Bluetooth and WiFi speaker, switching from one to another as needed. Connecting to the Zipp Mini can also be done via 3.5mm mini-jack, for analog sound, or by USB if you happen to own an Apple iDevice. Irrespective of OS affiliation, though, the Zipp Mini will charge almost any smartphone, camera, or ebook reader by plugging it into the speaker’s 5V/1A output USB port.
Now that you’ve read about the good, it is time to read about the not so good. The Zipp Mini, unsurprisingly, is not cheap. It’s not inexpensive, either. The list price is $249, but it is possible to get one for $199 with free shipping with an Amazon Prime membership. The Zipp Mini also features one of my pet peeves: a proprietary charger. This means you are S.O.L. if it gets left behind and more than 10 hours of playback is wanted. Also, the search feature of the Libratone app is almost useless. Using it to find KQED and RTÉ1 produced zero results, yet, after much scrolling, both were found buried under several layers of menus and submenus.
That said, you get a lot of speaker, sound, and radio technology for the price paid. You also get more connectivity options, the ability to link up to six speakers, and better sound than most other wireless speakers out there. For more information about the Zipp Mini or any Libratone product, click here.
**Full disclosure: The Zipp Mini was loaned at no cost for editorial consideration and, sadly, must be returned. It will be missed.