Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
She’s a brick…house. The Sonos Remote is a two-handed affair.
Instead of lugging a boom box from room to room or turning up the volume on your stereo or TV really loud, the Sonos Bundle 150 lets you blast tunes all around your house via a network. The basic complement includes hardware to play songs in two locations, with your own speakers or connection to a home stereo. Great-sounding audio streams from your local Mac, a network drive, or even through the Internet. The process works well, but even with the clean audio quality and intuitive interface, the Sonos system can’t quite justify its high cost compared to competitors.
The simplicity of setting up the Sonos system is a big part of what you’re paying for. We got our test system running in minutes, plugging the ZonePlayer 120 into a wired network and stereo. Then through a Mac utility, the system builds its own wireless network to reach the ZonePlayer 90 and wireless controller. And each Sonos box has two Ethernet ports to bridge the network to any of your unrelated wired hardware.
The Sonos Controller comes off as a brick compared to smaller, more nimble devices. While the scrollwheel interface gets music playing quickly, the device evokes the original iPod, not the sleek touch interface we’re used to on the iPhone and other media gadgets. And while the remote automatically wakes up if moved and activates backlighting in a dark room, even those tricks feel standard these days. Sonos stood out years ago with the same remote, but times—and expectations—have changed. Even after firmware updates, the device seems a bit long in the tooth—competitors have definitely caught up.
While the remote hardware is merely adequate, the music experience is still strong. We played songs through free Internet radio stations and networked Macs without any problems. Sonos even supports add-on Net-capable music services without need for a computer: Sirius, Rhapsody, Pandora, and Napster. Tapped into any of those, the player works as the infinite jukebox music junkies have been waiting for.
In our tests, audio sounded great. Users can connect components through stereo RCA ports on either box, directly to bookshelf speakers on the ZonePlayer 90, or to a digital receiver (optical or coax) on the ZonePlayer 120. We played the same song in multiple rooms or different files in different areas at the same time without problem. The ZonePlayer 120 even has RCA inputs to relay TV sounds. We listened, for example, to sports events and Meet the Press from the kitchen. The Sonos plays back nearly every file format we threw at it, although purchased tracks from iTunes are still off-limits, thanks to Apple’s refusal to cooperate with other hardware makers.
While audio streaming performed well, the Sonos bundle misses a few features. You can’t set it up wireless-only—it has to connect through Ethernet on one of the boxes. And even at this price, you only get a cord to recharge the remote; add another $40 for the charging cradle.
The Sonos Bundle 150 feels dated without a touchscreen or sleeker remote. The simple interface and setup could save you time, but is that enough justify the price?