Pioneer XW-SMA3 A3
Waterproof; Wi-Fi direct; remote control; easy setup
The A3 has two key advantages over other units in this Group Test (reviews of iHome’s iW1, Logitech’s UE Air Speaker and PURE’s Contour 200i Air to follow). The first is Wi-Fi direct mode; a system that lets the A3 set up its own ad hoc Wi-Fi network that your device can connect to.
If you consider the Use Case for this type of portable system, it’s likely that you’ll want to use it when you’re away from your home Wi-Fi network, at the park for example. Without Wi-Fi direct you would need to connect your iPhone to the stereo via cable. But with Wi-Fi direct, you can use AirPlay wireless streaming from anywhere.
The second advantage of the A3 is its compatibility with other non-Apple devices like Android smartphones using an industry standard called DLNA.
Configuration with regular Wi-Fi is also easy and doesn’t require the use of any third-party apps. You connect your iOS device using the A3’s USB port, and then confirm an iOS system alert that asks where the A3 can use your device’s Wi-Fi settings. When you confirm this, the A3 does the rest and joins the same Wi-Fi network your iOS device is connected to.
Sound quality on the A3 was good thanks to a pair of 3in mid-range speakers, along with a single 1in tweeter.
The A3 also comes with a handy remote that allows you to control basic functions while away from the device.
The battery is rated to give up to five hours of playback, and the casing is notionally waterproof – which means the A3 can be used next to a pool, where it might cop the occasional splash.