Expensive audio equipment is easier to recommend than most other high-priced technology. A cutting-edge smartphone feels like an anachronism 5 years later, but a pair of expensive speakers is likely to be just as good 20 years from now.
The Samsung DA-E750 audio dock seems to straddle both worlds: it's a speaker with a high-end feel, but its built-in tech isn't likely to be as relevant a decade from now. Both AirPlay and Bluetooth are supported, plus there's a retractable dock on the back that supports iOS devices (including the iPad), Samsung Galaxy S2 and Galaxy S3 phones, and the Samsung Galaxy Note "phablet." It's by far the best-looking wireless audio speaker I've tested, with a lush cherrywood finish, tastefully accented by a pair of glowing vacuum tubes beneath a circular topside window.
If you're willing to invest $700 in an audio dock, there's nothing that looks this nice and offers nearly as many connectivity options. And the sound quality is good, although it's not the best-sounding AirPlay speaker on the market; that would be the slightly less expensive B&W Zeppelin Air. The Samsung DA-E750 isn't a good value -- you can do better for your money -- but if you want the most luxurious-looking audio dock with a great set of features, this is it.
The DA-E750 looks gorgeous in photos and it manages to be just as impressive in person. That distinction is notable for Samsung, which has often made products with visually stunning design that fall short when you get the product in your hand. Our review sample has a beautiful cherrywood finish (it's also available in black) that lives up to the descriptor of "furniture-grade." Every CNET editor that laid hands on the DA-E750 was impressed with the craftsmanship, even after I revealed the price. In terms of style, there's really no contest between the DA-E750 and the plastic cabinets of competing luxury audio docks like the B&W Zeppelin Air and Bose SoundDock 10.
The sonic benefits of the built-in tubes may be negligible, but they certainly work as a visual effect. A pair of ECC82 vacuum tubes are sheltered under a glass window, which provides one of the ways of knowing the DA-E750 is on. Unnecessary blinking lights can be an nuisance with electronics, but the soft, steady glow of the DA-E750's tubes was warm and far from annoying. If you don't need the novelty of the tubes, or the fancy wood finish, Samsung offers several much more affordable docks with plainer looks.
Next to the tubes is the control panel on the DA-E750, where you can adjust the volume, play/pause connected devices, and toggle between inputs/devices. It also doubles as a basic display, with various icons letting you know what device the DA-E750 is playing from. The plastic control panel doesn't quite live up to the luxurious quality of the rest of the speaker, as it feels like it could have been ripped from one of Samsung's home-theater-in-a-box systems. It's a minor blemish, but at $700 it's fair to nitpick.
As nice as the DA-E750 is, the included remote seems like it belongs to a different (cheaper) product. It's hollow plastic, with a faux-metallic look that comes off as chintzy, especially sitting next to the speaker. At least the buttons are arranged well, although they could stand out a bit more. But I can let the cheap remote slide, since you'll most likely be controlling the DA-E750 with your smartphone or tablet.
An AirPlay speaker with a striking design would be enough for many, but the DA-E750 goes above and beyond with its extensive feature set.