Q: I recently bought the Zeppelin and I see there is a USB port on the back. Do you know if I can hook up my Macbook directly to the Zeppelin via USB and play iTunes from my Macbook (since it holds way more playlists than the nano). Could I use an IBM notebook to do this? The USB on the back of the Zeppelin is different than the USB port on the notebooks so I do not know if there is a special cable available to do this.
A: Unfortunately, no. The USB port on the back of the Zeppelin is actually only used for firmware upgrades.
We contacted the folks at Bowers & Wilkins, who make the Zeppelin, to inquire about this, and their response was:
“The USB port is strictly for internal upgrades. You cannot use it to connect to your computer, you can use the AUX plug for that. There are no other uses (at this time).”
As suggested above, connecting the “line-out” from your computer to the AUX port on the Zeppelin is probably the simplest way to play music on the Zeppelin anyway. This will obviously transmit all of your computer’s audio to the Zeppelin, however, so you may want to ensure that other system sounds are disabled so they do not interrupt your music.
As an alternative solution, if the Zeppelin and computer are not in close proximity, you might want to look at an Apple Airport Express, which includes a feature called “AirTunes” for streaming audio wirelessly from iTunes to a set of remote speakers. The new units also function as an 802.11n wireless access point/router and can be used to share USB printers as well. The main advantage to AirTunes in this case is that it will only transmit your playing track audio from iTunes and not any other system sounds, and of course your speakers can be in a completely different room from your computer if you so desire.