A smart-looking wireless speaker system for home entertainment.
How will it change my life? Integrated entertainment systems are a must these days. Televisions, games consoles, TV services boxes, PCs, tablets and mobile phones can all be connected and communicate with each other.
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Dedicated music systems seem to be a thing of the past thanks to the success of Apple's iTunes and Spotify. So how can you unify the audio of all these devices without amassing a web of wires and confusion?
The Loop from Libratone promises the answer with its wireless Airplay connection for Apple products and DNLA for the rest. The integrated wi-fi provides a seamless link to any connected devices without having to lift carpets and other flooring to hide wires.
The primary function of any speaker is to relay sound and the loop does a good job here. Even ramped up to ear-bleeding levels the sound only carries the slightest hint of deferred buzz. The Loop's design is funky, garnering admiring glances and the occasional puzzled look. The round, fluffy pillow-like appearance put one friend in mind of a travel cushion.
Good points? The Loop is a stylish and well-made unit that can be easily positioned as the contact surface area is surprisingly small compared with its stature. It can also be wall mounted, which is useful if you have limited space.
The audio quality is superb and comes into its own when the volume is increased. There's no droning or degradation during even the heaviest of metal tracks, which came in handy in helping drown out the torturous piano playing of the sadist in the flat upstairs (his rendition of Chopsticks is extraordinary).
It takes less than a minute to set up the speaker through the USB connection and all other aspects, such as Airplay, work without further interaction. True innovation tends to come with a degree of complexity but the Loop bucks this trend. Those familiar with the excruciating instructions of bygone stereos will appreciate the no-nonsense set-up.
Bad points? It's not the cheapest speaker in its class and the stand can vibrate on some solid surfaces, which can be a tad annoying.
Best for … Anyone looking for a hassle-free wireless speaker upgrade. The Loop is made with Apple in mind so, although other products will work fine through the Libratone applications, they won't have as much impact and functionality.
Avoid if …You have a limited budget or aren't an Apple fan - there are other devices that offer greater integration with a wider range of third-party products.
Score: 8/10. The Libratone Loop is testament to how far audio technology has come. What once took an afternoon to complete with half the functionality now takes little more than a minute with wondrous results.
l The Libratone Loop, £399 (libratone.com)