The Best AirPlay-Compatible Device That (Not Too Much) Money Can Buy

Back in the Jurassic Period of streaming audio (a.k.a. 2010), I thought I was a genius. I managed to set up a system to send music playing through Rhapsody on my iMac wirelessly to my stereo (yes, the old-school kind with an amplifier) using an Apple AirPort Express, a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable, and some software patch. It took me four hours to configure, and the sound dropped out inexplicably from time to time. But whatever, I was streaming music—from the cloud!

Fast-forward just two years and the increasingly ubiquitous AirPlay has made my pet project sound like a giant waste of time. Still most of the compatible devices have been just a little too expensive to force me to scrap my audio hack and invest. Then I spied the Logitech UE Air Speaker.

Now, it must be said: Logitech—although the home of a lot of useful peripherals—is not a brand that screams "artful design" or even "audio" for that matter. But the UE and its plain, gently curved black body is a pretty attractive piece. It looks like a TV sound bar and would feel right at home just about anywhere in a living room or a bedroom. The minimalist design includes two buttons (power and mute), one silver matte volume dial, and a docking tray that easily tucks away when you're not using it. But the best part is the set-up. My original four-hour marathon of getting music to fill my living room was shaved to a mere four minutes. You simply dock your iPhone, download an app as prompted, and the UE finds your network and connects. That's it. Done. After that I could stream music from my phone, iPad, or iMac from any corner of the house.

Granted, the audio is not as rich as my stereo or even a similar Bose or Bang & Olufsen product, but for $399 it's hard to complain. Just remember: You're streaming music—from the cloud!

—Greg Emmanuel (@gemmanuel), articles editor at Details

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Photo: Logitech
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