Review Price £398.99
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin iPod Speaker Dock - B&W Zeppelin
The aforementioned S-Video and composite video connections on the rear allow you to pass through iPod video to a TV, but why anyone would want to do that is beyond me. Most iPod video is of questionable quality at best, and plain awful the rest of the time. You can get away with low resolution, low bit rate video on a tiny iPod screen, but once you blow it up on a large screen TV, it just looks horrible. If you are planning on piping video from your iPod through to a TV, I can tell you that a fifth generation iPod had no problems outputting video, but both the iPod touch and iPhone refused to play video on anything other than the internal screen. B&W are aware of this limitation and are working on a fix, but I feel that anyone who's concerned enough with sound quality to want a device like the Zeppelin, is unlikely to ever want to watch iPod video on their TV.
The infrared remote control is small and simlarly shaped to the Zeppelin itself. Although some who tried it found it a little small to hold comfortably, I had no issue with it. That said, the buttons are somewhat small, and some backlighting would have been a nice touch for anyone who likes to listen to music with the lights dimmed.
B&W doesn't make cheap products, so it comes as no surprise that the Zeppelin is the most expensive iPod speaker dock to ever feature on TrustedReviews. However, I still feel that the Zeppelin offers incredible value for money, since value is measured by what you're getting for your money not how cheap something is to purchase. So, while many of you will feel that £400 is a ludicrous amount of money to spend on an iPod dock, you need to put that price into context.
First and foremost, the Zeppelin sounds better than the vast majority of consumer targeted hi-fi systems. Secondly, if you wanted a hi-fi that sounds better than this, you'd be spending a hell of a lot more than £400. Thirdly, for anyone who keeps all their music on an iPod, the Zeppelin will provide you with a truly staggering listening experience.
There is a caveat though, as with high-end earphones like Shure's E500s, you need high quality encodes to get the best out of the Zeppelin. So, if you're happy to rip your music at 128kbps MP3, you really won't be getting the best out of the Zeppelin. But if you're concerned enough with sound quality to rip at 320kbps MP3, or even better, rip using a lossless codec, the Zeppelin is definitely for you. In fact, even though the majority of my music is encoded using a high bit rate, I'm seriously considering ripping my entire CD collection all over again using a lossless codec, just so I can get the best out of high-end digital audio products like the Zeppelin.
Rather than shy away from the digital music revolution, B&W has embraced it and created a product that brings hi-fi sound to the iPod generation. Despite the intrinsic limitations of compressed digital music, B&W has managed to produce an iPod speaker dock that raises the bar so high, I doubt that the competition can see it, let alone reach it. The Zeppelin sounds staggeringly good no matter what genre of music you throw at it, and any iPod users who are serious about their music should start saving now.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality