Customer Review

203 of 258 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do you have what it takes to own a Zeppelin Air?, November 27, 2011
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This review is from: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Wireless AirPlay Speaker Dock - ZEPAIR (Electronics)
Do you have what it takes to own a Zeppelin Air?

What a great idea! Wireless music with great speakers controlled by your iphone! A Super-dock! But for us (and a handful of fellow consumers), a terrible product, because operating a ZA requires that you pass a test, which we did not. Let me describe how we came to this conclusion. We bought the ZA at the local Apple store, and carefully followed the instructions in the box to connect to our wi-fi. It should be plug and play, right? The plug part required hooking up the ZA to a desktop computer with a (rather short) Ethernet cable, and connecting the ZA to local wi-fi. We went through the multi-step set-up sequence as carefully as we could, taking extra care to input the correct wi-fi password, as described. This was an ominous step in the instructions, warning of dire consequences if not done correctly. We were absolutely certain that this was typed in correctly (Network Don & Jess, all alphanumeric password). Once the ZA connects to your network, it will stop flashing purple and become solid purple. The instructions say, hey if this doesn't happen, don't worry, just hit the reset button and start over. Tried resetting many, many times; it didn't stop flashing purple for us - 2 hours, 3 hours of trying, searching the net for troubleshooting tips, still flashing purple. Now the Bowers & Wilkins site has a FAQ section that helpfully says that there is a firmware update, which I did, and a support section with a detailed pdf guide to download, which I did. Along the way I read that the password must be alphanumeric, that the security must be a certain type, but not another type, that the network has to support "g" protocol rather than "n". All OK, but still a flashing purple light, and the reset still did not work. I found several variations on how to do the factory reset; hold for 2 seconds, turn off, wait 60 seconds, hold for 10 seconds, etc. I tried them all, in various sequences, for hours. Still the flashing purple light. Then we returned the ZA and got a 2nd one, brought it home and very carefully tried a connection through our ipad, as this was suggested in a blog, and the downloaded guide had careful directions for this (and much easier than hooking up the Ethernet wire). The short version of story that we got to the same spot and the purple light flashed on and on, and I could not reset. There is no phone support at the ZA website, but you can email support and they will return your query within 3 business days; so I had 6 h invested and Thanksgiving was coming up and we wanted wireless music for the holidays, and ZA gets great reviews, so I wrote an email. Ken from Bowers & Wilkins responded the next day, was nice and helpful, and after a few exchanges gave me the secret to my problem as outlined in one of his emails:

"Have you confirmed that your network name AND password only contains alphanumeric characters? Also that your wireless G-compatible router only uses WPA/WPA 2 Personal, WEP, or No Security. The Zeppelin Air will not support WPA/WPA2 Enterprise security.

In most cases I've see, the no reset issue is usually caused by entering either the wrong network password or no password at all (when there should be a password)."

Did you see it? I admit I missed it in the first email. Note that Ken admits that there is a "no reset issue". Our password is alphanumeric, our security and protocol are OK, but we had an ampersand (&) in our network name! (Don & Jess). And since I typed this in, the ZA will never be able to reset! I've ruined the machine by typing in an ampersand, and you can also apparently ruin the machine by mistyping your password, or by not typing in a password, or by using a password with special characters, which explains the ominous warning in the instructions. I specifically asked Ken from Bowers & Wilkins (note the irony of the ampersand in the company name) if I ruined the machine by having a bad network name, and pointed out to him that this little problem is not in any instructions or guides that I could see - and he did not reply. So my take on this is: if you pass the test of being lucky enough not to have the wrong network name, and you are able to type in your password without making a mistake, you will probably love the ZA. I failed that test and am unworthy. We returned the ZA and will wait for more stable versions, or will find something else.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2011 1:35:19 PM PST
Critical says:
Same thing happened to us. Except that they told us only that our PASSWORD couldn't have special characters. After many hours of trying to reset, we did not find out, until reading the above review, that the network couldn't have them either. No mention of this on their instructions, online manual, online video tutorial. But Ken now says that there's a "bug" that won't allow special characters in either place. If you have a network name which uses any of them, do not try to install wirelessly: change the network name, or give up.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2011 7:29:03 PM PST
Pete M says:
I am in the same boat and I'm about to return the ZA for another one. Did either of you get the original ZA to work or is this un-resettable machine fried?

Posted on Dec 26, 2011 4:20:36 AM PST
MZerach says:
Though the restrictions related to the network configuration is definitely unacceptable and since they are well known to BW, their documentation should have spelled that out to you in clear black and white language. Though it was a miserable experience for you, I appreciate you posting it here. So when my unit arrives and I set it up I too wont fall victim of poor quality documentation.

Did you go with SONOS play 5 instead?

Posted on Dec 26, 2011 4:21:16 AM PST
MZerach says:
Though the restrictions related to the network configuration is definitely unacceptable and since they are well known to BW, their documentation should have spelled that out to you in clear black and white language. Though it was a miserable experience for you, I appreciate you posting it here. So when my unit arrives and I set it up I too wont fall victim of poor quality documentation.

Did you go with SONOS play 5 instead?

Posted on Feb 5, 2012 1:56:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 5, 2012 1:59:15 PM PST
I locked up my ZA as well because I had a "#" sign in my wireless network ID (...what the hell B&W, seriously??) -- but using the Zeppelin Recovery utility downloaded from B&W's website did the trick in no time. It removes the faulty firmware and loads new firmware, then you can reset the ZA and set up wifi again with NO SPECIAL CHARACTERS.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2012 2:43:20 PM PST
R. Newcomb says:
Suggestion: Get the NAD Viso1 instead. List price is $100 more, but my local high end dealer gave me 10% off, making it only $30.00 more. I would have bought it with out the discount anyway because it sounds much better, so to me it's a no brainer. Also, I have it connected to an Apple Airport Express ($100) that I borrowed from another room for wireless streaming, and use the remote app on my iPhone to control all my music. You can also stream Pandora, MOG, etc with it's Bluetooth feature.

Posted on Feb 15, 2012 11:12:01 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 15, 2012 11:12:31 AM PST
Simply Simon says:
I had a similar early experience but I used their suggested alternative method, without the ethernet, and it all came good. I have to say it was worth the frustration.

Posted on Jun 27, 2012 5:30:56 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Oct 7, 2012 12:54:41 PM PDT
Is this still true? I see no warnings in the latest manual on their site. I will not buy this product unless the problem has been fixed. Every security expert on the planet recommends special characters in passwords. To fail to support that is negligence of the worst kind.

Posted on Nov 4, 2012 7:36:42 AM PST
I too have had this reset issue. However, in this will sound really strange. There is a reset button in back. When it gets into this mode just pressing in the button will not work. You have to get it to dump what is in the memory back to the original factory settings. How you do this is by trial and error. Try combination of the reset pin and other buttons depressed and powering on and off. I know this sounds goofy, but eventually and through a lot of time it will finally dump. I am getting better at this and if you are stuck with this crappy product like I am...give this a try. By the way, a simple power outage is enough to trip this machine. B & W knows full well of their lemon, and will not admit there is a fundamental problem. I suspect they have voltage problems all over the place. If you really want to screw this product up, dock your iphone and try to play netflix...you will get a big surprise. Except for the sound this product is awful...DO NOT AT ALL BY ANY MEANS BY THIS JUNK. B & W needs to go away as a company. I cannot get it to hook up through the router wirlessly I have to use a cable. JUNK JUNK JUNK JUNK and mor JUNK.
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