Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sonos Wireless Music Streaming

There has been a lot of progress in the field of electricity since Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with the kite, the thunder and the key. Today humanity already counts more almost 3 centuries mastering the "thunder god" and we still use pretty much the same means of transferring electric power. Wires still resemble a lot their ancestors and let’s face it, they are everywhere. And just because Rita hates wires and extensions I decided to devote two posts to a new technology doing baby steps along with devices like Wii.

Obviously there are plenty of wireless music systems already competing in the home entertainment arena, but lets start with Sonos which is more than one year old by now. Sonos is a wireless DJ music system conceived from Logitech that managed to incorporate excellent technology and functionality on a sensible price. The device, comprised from a remote control and a box for transferring music from your computer, is very slick as the remote control features a clickable scroll wheel. Yet, the LCD, though functional, fails to complement the design.

Sonos is coming with StreamPoint, a software compatible with popular jukeboxes like iTunes, Windows Media Player and Musicmatch, using a 2.4GHz wireless technology for streaming digitally your tracks to the included Music Receiver. The Sonos controller is quite intuitive, and responsive with the menus and buttons simply laid out based on practicality and common sense. The system includes two receivers, called ZonePlayers but the setup requires at least to be pluged in to your computer's cable modem, DSL modem or router with an Ethernet cable. In that sense, ZonePlayer becomes a wireless base station connected to other ZonePlayers in the house.

With this setup, Sonos obviously creates a seperate network to the existing Wi-Fi, making the system more reliable with fast and flawless connection. It’s a given that you can tune in to Internet radio and online music services, the likes of Pandora (only in the US, damn it) and Rhapsody, needless of your computer, while Napster and Sirius Satellite Radio are supported as well.

Unfortunately, Sonos cannot play copy-protected songs purchased from Apple Inc.'s iTunes because only Apple's products can play such tracks. Now, coming at around $1000 does it really worth its money? Well, I have one more contestant for the next post where we will proclaim the winner. Ideas and feedback are welcome.