View Full Version : I think some of you might like this (Sonos)

2005-09-05, 07:17

I have just got back from IFA in Berlin - great show if you like LCD TVs, lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of LCD TVs! By the way, the best one on the market for Europe by a long way is the 45" Aquos from Sharp - but it still costs 4500 (US $8500)

Sonos had a stand there and were exhibiting there system and to be honest as it was the first time I had got to see the system I was a bit disappointed with it.

Their stand was very basic compared with some of the other smaller manufacturers and you could easily miss it unless you were looking for it.

The controller is a lot bigger that I thought it would, in fact I would go to say it is massive. Look at the Philips (more on them later) RC9800i for a better sized form factor or even the Nokia Webpad that is coming out. I also felt the front end on the controller was a bit clunky in parts and stuttered quite a bit considering they only had 5x players connected to each other. Maybe it was just the environment they were working in :)

Don't get me wrong, just because I work for the UK SlimDevices distributor doesn't mean that we don't like the Sonos product, we do - having seen it now and played with it in the flesh though it is just a little bit of a disappointment in some areas.

Now Philips are a different proposition as they have some really nice products coming out in their Streamium range which can only open up the idea of streaming music to a much wider range people - and when they want a much better sounding product they can buy a Squeezebox! All of these products were so new that they didn't even have model numbers from what I can see but I will describe them the best I can. First up is a unit which could be described as you main hi-fi. It has a built in 40Gb HDD, CD player, speakers, amp and radio. It also has a small LCD display in the unit and a remote control that also replicates this display - it looks very much like something from B&O as well. This acts as a central hub device and from this you can wirelessly have other players on the network which don't have the HDD or CD in them and are a bit smaller but the same design concept. The main unit is going to be 799 and the slave units are going to be around 399. One feature I particularly liked was you could set all players to play the same music at the same time or you could use the follow me feature which continued playing the same track you were listening to when you moved from zone to zone (and obviously stopped playing in the previous zone when you moved away from it). They also had a hi-fi component that had a built in 80Gb HDD in it that did the same functionality as the last unit but without the speakers built in. Of course you could control any of these units with the remote that comes with the devices or you could get the very nice RC9800i which gives you much greater flexibility over controlling the system. Philips also had a Squeezebox type device with the same display architecture as the other units - no great shakes on the display but still highly integrated into the other systems. All of their devices can talk to each other as well regardless of the range they are from.

The interesting thing with the Philips products is that not only did we meet two Sonos brand managers on their stand taking images of the new products :) but also how it will widen the reach and understanding of streaming audio products. As Squeezebox owners (and suppliers) we don't have anything to worry about from the Philips products (maybe Sonos do though :)) as they can only benefit "the cause" having a massive company like Philips using their marketing expertise and funds in selling the concept of streaming audio around the house.


Progressive Consumer Electronics Ltd