Sonos offers new hardware bundle, adds Pandora compatibility
The BU130 will combine a Sonos ZP100, ZP80, and CR100 for $1,000. Separately, a new software update will add compatibility with the Pandora online music service to all Sonos products.
In the past, Sonos has offered two configurations of its multiple-room Digital Music System--the original, and the more recent . The built-in amplifier on the ZP100 meant that you needed only to add speakers, while the ampless ZP80 was designed to plug into a nearby stereo system, AV receiver, or boom box. As of today, the company is splitting the difference. The new BU130 bundle includes one ZP100, one ZP80, and--the key ingredient--the company's unique CR100 wireless remote, which offers complete control of the two-room system with its iPod-like scroll wheel and color LCD screen. The BU130 costs $1,000--that's a 20 percent savings versus buying the three components separately. The previous two configurations will fade away, but the individual components--the ($500), ($350), and ($400)--continue to be available, so you can mix and match Sonos systems to your heart's content. With support for up to 32 stations (ZP80 or ZP100) per household, your budget is the only real constraint.
In addition to modifying its hardware bundle, Sonos is also upgrading its system software. A free upgrade (available immediately to all existing Sonos owners with the push of a button) adds compatibility with the Pandora online music service. The online streaming service (which costs $36 a year after the 30-day free trial) can be controlled directly through the Sonos remote, so there's no need to have a PC on the home network acting as a server. Sonos claims that the system can stream up to 32 separate concurrent Pandora stations--so a 'Sonosified' household could be getting rock in the kitchen and hip-hop in the bedroom, for instance. And if Pandora doesn't interest you, the Sonos is also compatible with a wide variety of other online music providers, including Rhapsody, Zune Marketplace, Audible, Napster, and Yahoo Music. (Copy-protected music from Apple's iTunes Store can't be streamed, but the soon-to-be-available DRM-free AAC tracks will work just fine.)
We haven't formally "reviewed" the new Sonos bundle, but as a simple remix of the previous version, it remains as enthusiastically recommended as its predecessor (a CNET Editors' Choice). Yes, we continue to lust for a single-room Sonos bundle priced at a more reasonable $500, but for a multiple-room solution, the Sonos Digital Music System remains a downright bargain.