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iHome introduces first AirPlay speaker

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By Jesse Hollington

Social Media & Software Editor, iLounge
Published: Friday, September 3, 2010
News Categories: iPod Accessories

iHome has added information to its web site announcing its plans to release a new speaker system compatible with Apple’s AirPlay technology introduced earlier this week. Replacing Apple’s venerable AirTunes technology, AirPlay allows not only audio but also videos, photos and metadata to be transmitted to other AirPlay-enabled devices. AirPlay will also be available on iOS devices with the release of iOS 4.2 in November, allowing media content to be streamed to AirPlay receivers from an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. As a departure from AirTunes, Apple has licensed its AirPlay technology to third-party companies to allow them to integrate this capability into their products such as speaker systems and AV receivers. Details on the iHome AirPlay are currently minimal, although iHome indicates that it will include a rechargeable battery and be available this holiday season.

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Comments

1

If this works like I hope it will, it will change thins in the home/dorm/office in a big way.
I[‘d be shocked if Apple aren’t also going to offer up something similar, but then again, they seem to be content not to be in the music hardware side of things since the dropping of the iPod Hi-Fi.

Posted by sb on September 3, 2010 at 10:02 AM (PDT)

2

As much as I love the idea of AirPlay speakers, you have to question the quality of music over-the-air as opposed to a direct dock source.

Posted by Michael W on September 4, 2010 at 5:50 AM (PDT)

3

There isn’t any question at all regarding the quality—you’re thinking in analog terms that don’t apply here. This is similar to the myths that persist regarding HDMI cables and signal quality. 

AirPlay, like AirTunes before it, provides a digital audio stream, which means that unless extra lossy compression is being used in the stream the quality should be identical to a direct connection.  It’s extremely unlikely that they’re going to add any compression to the stream at all (much less lossy compression) since it would add needless processing overhead and it’s completely unnecessary with modern network speeds. 

Most users are already using lossy compression formats on their audio (ie, AAC/MP3), but even for users with completely uncompressed, lossless libraries even the oldest 802.11b Wi-Fi network technology should be able to handle an uncompressed CD-quality audio stream. Consider: Full lossless music: 1.4mbps, WI-Fi 802.11b: 11mbps, 802.11g: 54mbps, 802.11n: 160mbps. 

Further, AirPlay is also designed to carry video, which streams at a considerably higher bit-rate than even lossless music, although still well under the capabilities offered by most people’s Wi-FI networks (720p HD H.264 will be around 4mbps).

In fact, if you want to get really technical, a direct dock connection could theoretically provide worse quality, since that is an analog connection between the iPod and the speaker system. smile

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on September 4, 2010 at 6:26 AM (PDT)

4

does it actually work for all speakers… or is it only designed for certain types?

Posted by Jon F. on November 26, 2010 at 7:54 AM (PDT)

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