The Bose Soundlink Air is a wireless speaker capable of streaming audio from iTunes and Apple devices using AirPlay; I decided to pen this review after three months living with the system in my home.
Let’s get this out of the way upfront; on the face of it, this is a wireless speaker system for people who use Apple products… AirPlay is a proprietary Apple technology that is used to stream audio, images and video wirelessly between compatible devices. When I started using it I tried to use a HTC Sensation XE and wasn’t able to get it to work with this device, likewise Matt attempted the same with his Xperia Z and wasn’t able to. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I believe it will require some specialist software which is not required with Apple devices (more on that in a bit).
The Soundlink Air also comes with a small remote control and has a 3.5 mm input for other devices.
The sound quality is fantastic; room filling and crisp across all ranges to my ear, and it’s more than loud enough for our home (our neighbours can attest to this). When using iTunes, your iPhone or iPad, it couldn’t be simpler to use the device; just tap the AirPlay icon and select the device (in iOS 7, you will need to bring up the control centre to find the AirPlay icon). The downside over something like Sonos is that if you have multiple Soundlink Air devices, you can only play music from your iPhone or iPod on one at a time (switching your AirPlay output as you move between living room and kitchen rather than playing in both simultaneously). This can be worked around though, as iTunes on your PC or Mac is capable of streaming audio to multiple devices and downloading the ‘Remote’ app on your phone will allow you to control iTunes output (albeit with some noticeable latency).When you first set-up the device, you will need to connect it to your PC or Mac using the supplied USB cable. It will prompt you to download and install the latest software for it and you can then configure it for your wireless network and name the device. This is a bit of a faff, but it’s not particularly complicated or overly time-consuming.
The Soundlink Air is mains powered (it has the largest plug of any electronic device in our household which mean it takes up two of the sockets on a four gang) but it’s not too big to consider portable; this summer we have frequently plugged it in outside to enjoy music in the garden and I often carry it between our living room and my office (only downstairs, not across town; I work from home). You can purchase a rechargeable battery for the Bose Soundlink Air, but at £89.95 from the official site I can cope with the inconvenice of unplugging it and plugging it back in at the other end.
Overall I think the Bose Soundlink Air is a sound investment for convenient, high quality audio from your phone or tablet around the home. Its stylish looks and simple functionality have made it a hit with everyone in this house!