Wi-Fi speakers that are compatible with Apple's AirPlay wireless audio technology are gradually expected to come down in price this year after coming out of the gate in 2011 with lofty price tags that scared a lot of consumers away. Case in point: iHome's $199 iW2 speaker with AirPlay, which the company says will begin shipping April 1.
This unit is about 25 percent smaller than last year's iHome iW1 ($299); it measures 5.83 by 10.52 by 3.03 inches (HWD). In many regards it's similar to the iW1, but it does not feature a built-in rechargeable battery like the iW1 does. This model is powered by an AC adapter and includes a remote.
iHome touts the fact that you can plug a dock into the iW2 via the USB port on the back and charge your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, though no dock is provided. Alternatively, you can simply charge your Apple mobile device with the standard iPhone/iPad charging/synching cable. That's a nice feature.
Later this year iHome will release the iW3 and iW4 AirPlay units. The iW3 is a vertical, more cylindrically shaped speaker; the iW4 follows the same design as iHome's iPad/iPhone clock radio docks. Both units are expected to cost around $200 and ship this spring.