Summary:

Apple devices have enjoyed wireless music playback through AirPlay speakers, but Windows users generally have been left out in the cold, until now. Aperion’s Aris wireless speaker lets Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview computers pipe tunes wirelessly using Microsoft’s “Play To” feature.

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Apple devices have enjoyed wireless music playback through AirPlay speakers, but Windows users generally have been left out in the cold. Until now, that is. Aperion announced its Aris wireless speaker on Tuesday, allowing Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview computers pipe tunes wirelessly using Microsoft’s “Play To” feature. Pre-orders for the Aris speaker start today for $499.

The built in “Play To” function for Windows is supported on numerous televisions and stereo systems, but this is the first supported speaker that I can recall seeing. The Aris is large — 6.5 inches high by 14.75 inches wide — so you’re certainly not going to carry it around all the time. For listening to music wirelessly around the home, however, it should work nicely. The device offers 100W RMS of power and has six internal speakers, three sound modes — natural, bass boost, and enhanced stereo — and can connect to protected Wi-Fi networks.

I’m actually surprised that so few companies are building speakers compatible with Microsoft’s “Play To” functionality. Apple’s AirPlay, which also uses Wi-Fi as the network transport, seems to be a big hit with consumers that want to share music and videos from an iOS device to a larger screened computer, external AirPlay speakers or an Apple TV.

Since music files are readily stored on mobile devices and computers, it just makes sense to have a simple method to shoot that media wirelessly to different rooms or devices. I don’t have any knowledge of what Microsoft is planning for Windows Phone 8, but if I were on the design team, I’d make darn sure that “Play To” is part of the mobile platform.

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