Li­bra­tone Zipp

THESE CHUNKY SPEAK­ERS WORK WITH ALEXA, BUT WON’T LIS­TEN TO YOUR COM­MANDS

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - Zipp $599 Zipp Mini $469 • www.li­bra­tone.com

Li­bra­tone’s Zipp and Zipp Mini speak­ers take their names from the chunky fas­tener that se­cures their boldly coloured fab­ric cov­ers. They also sport dis­tinc­tive leather straps that en­cour­age you to pick them up and go: with a claimed ten­hour bat­tery life, these speak­ers don’t need to be chained to a mains socket. Un­like JBL and Ul­ti­mate Ears’ bat­tery-pow­ered speak­ers, how­ever, they’re not wa­ter­proof.

That’s not the only way in which Li­bra­tone’s char­ac­ter­ful speak­ers dif­fer from other con­tenders. Rather than be­ing de­signed as smart speak­ers from the be­gin­ning, they’re reg­u­lar Blue­tooth speak­ers that have been retro tted with up­dated rmware to work with Alexa – and, sad to say, it’s not a good

For a start, while both Zipp units have built-in mi­cro­phones, they’re not de­signed for al­ways-on op­er­a­tion. When Li­bra­tone an­nounced the Alexa up­grade last year, the idea was that you’d tap the panel on the top to ac­ti­vate the mi­cro­phone, be­fore is­su­ing your com­mand to Alexa. That’s clearly far less t. con­ve­nient than sim­ply be­ing able to call out to her from across the room.

In the event, even that ca­pa­bil­ity hasn’t ma­te­ri­alised. It might at some fu­ture point, but for now all you get is a skill that lets Alexa stream mu­sic to the Li­bra­tone speak­ers on your home net­work. In other words, the Zipp does tech­ni­cally work with Alexa – but you’ll need a sep­a­rate Echo de­vice to ac­tu­ally con­trol it.

If you don’t mind jump­ing through that hoop, the sound isn’t bad at all. The Mini sounds ad­mirably solid and well bal­anced; a hint of dis­tor­tion creeps in at max­i­mum vol­ume, but it’s un­likely you would ever want to push it up that high in­doors. The full­sized Zipp goes even louder, and while the bass re­sponse can get a lit­tle over-en­thu­si­as­tic at times it’s un­doubt­edly one of this month’s bet­ter speak­ers.

In­deed, taken on their own terms, the Li­bra­tone Zipp and Zipp Mini are clever bits of kit. They’re nowhere near as smart as their ri­vals, though – and next to the Ama­zon Echo or Google Home, the price isn’t re­motely com­pet­i­tive.

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