When a Bluetooth or AirPlay speaker crosses the $500 mark, you expect to be impressed. Yes, it has to sound good, and yes, it has to look good, but it also has deliver just a little something extra to make you throw out reason and spend more than you probably should on a wireless speaker.
The Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 ($600) is an undeniably nice speaker, but it doesn't quite feel worthy of the asking price. Its strongest suit is its refined design, with a clean look that blends into most decor without drawing attention to itself. The Minx Air 200 also has a particularly good set of features, including both built-in Bluetooth and AirPlay, plus the option to tune into Internet radio presets with just a press of a button on the top.
Where the Minx lets you down is its sound quality. It's an average-sounding speaker with an above-average price, and audiophiles should note that cheaper (but without AirPlay) models like the Peachtree Audio Deepblue ($400) and Klipsch KMC 3 ($400) deliver a richer sound, especially in terms of bass. If you're less picky about sound quality and don't mind paying for the Minx Air 200's tasteful looks, it's worth considering, but for most buyers, you'll get more bang for your buck from alternatives.
Editors' note: The Minx Air 200 is very similar to Cambridge Audio's smaller Minx Air 100, therefore the reviews are similar.
Design: Classy looks
The Minx Air 200 is one of the nicest-looking Bluetooth speakers to enter the CNET offices. It has a plain, white plastic cabinet with a gray speaker grille, giving it a Sonos-like appearance that looked good pretty much everywhere I put it. Its understated figure is a welcome departure from the goofy designs that are increasingly common with AirPlay and Bluetooth speakers.
It is, however, bigger than you'd expect, measuring 17.7 inches wide, 8.7 inches high, and 6.9 inches deep. Unlike the smaller Minx Air 100, the Minx Air 200 will likely dominate whatever furniture it's placed on.
The top has two series of mushy rubber buttons that give a satisfying click when you press them down. The buttons on the right are used to control volume, pairing, and Play/Pause, while the numbered buttons on the left give you one-touch access to your favorite Internet radio stations. Standalone Internet radio capability is a particularly nice plus over other AirPlay and Bluetooth radios, since it allows you to quickly get some music playing, without having to grab a smartphone or tablet.
The Minx Air 200 also includes a remote, but it's an afterthought. The thin, cheap clicker sports bubblelike buttons that are laid out in a grid without much organization. However, I rarely found myself wanting to use a separate remote, since you'll do most of your controlling from your smartphone or tablet and the speaker itself has controls on it too.
Setup: Trickier than you'd think
AirPlay speakers all face a similar conundrum; they need to get on your Wi-Fi network, but they lack a screen and keyboard for entering a password. The Minx Air 200's workaround is a little more difficult than most, requiring you to connect a laptop, smartphone, or tablet to a temporary network created by the Minx, then set your browser to 192.168.1.1 to select your home Wi-Fi network and enter your password. It's simple enough for those who've tweaked network settings before, but a guided setup through the Minx's app would have been a lot better. (Bluetooth syncing, as always, is much simpler.)
The Minx app does let you configure the Internet radio preset buttons on the top. The app works reasonably well. You can browse by the typical categories like genre and location, though it's much easier to find something worth listening to if you know a station to search for. Unfortunately, only "true" Internet radio stations can be set as presets, so there's no way to program a button to play a Pandora, Spotify, or Rdio stream, for instance.