We're suckers for wireless speakers, but they have to work. We're not the least bit interested in streaming technologies that stutter from interference or compress the audio to preserve bandwidth. That's why Libratone caught our attention here in Berlin with its new Libratone Beat -- the "world's first high-end active speaker with wireless technology," or so they claim. The speaker features one 5-inch bass, two 3-inch midrange drivers, and two 1-inch ribbon based tweeters. In all we're looking at 50W of bass output and 2x25W at the tweeter / midrange. There's even a 3.5-mm mini jack to tether devices. The big question here is will they be worth the MSRP €595 / $655 when they start shipping across Europe and the US in January?
Well, we can't say for sure. After all, we could only listen to the speaker on the very crowded (and noisy) floor of the IFA trade show. But what we heard sounded decent and did manage to stream audio over its proprietary transmission technology even at a distance of about 50 feet. Very impressive considering the high concentration of WiFi hotspots and other wireless devices in use within just a few feet of the Libratone booth. Here's the catch: a dongle is required to communicate with the speaker -- a small version for the iPod / iPhone / Pad or a larger USB stick for your laptop -- both included with the purchase price. On the plus side, multiple Beats can play at once -- just wander into range of one or multiple Beats and they'll start (and later stop) playing automatically. Nice.
Update: We've added a second gallery of press images below.