ZonePlayer S5: An iPhone-friendly Sonos with built-in speakers
Unlike previous Sonos streaming audio products, the ZonePlayer S5's all-in-one design means you don't have to connect it to additional speakers or components.
We've long been fans of the Sonos Digital Music System, which lets you stream all manner of digital audio throughout your home. The latest
The new Sonos ZonePlayer S5 aims to address both of those issues. It boasts an all-in-one design with built-in stereo speakers, so it's plug and play. And it costs $400--not cheap, but well within the price range of refined iPod speaker systems we've seen from Bose, B&W, and other luxury brands.
Indeed, the latest Sonos combines the features of a
The Sonos S5 lacks any major controls on its body; instead, it's designed to be controlled from any iPhone or iPod Touch using the the free Mac desktop software or a dedicated remote such as the $350
So what's the downside? The biggest one--that might be a deal-breaker for many--is that the first Sonos component on your home network needs a wired connection. (Subsequent Sonos components then interface wirelessly with that one via the products' built-in proprietary mesh network.) So, if the S5 is your first and only Sonos unit, it'll need to have a wired Ethernet link. Alternately, if you want to put the S5 in a location that lacks nearby Ethernet access--and you don't already have another Sonos product on your network--you can opt to invest in the
Sticklers might note other potential caveats, but we don't see them as big issues. You can't stream any music from the iPod Touch or iPhone directly to the Sonos S5, for instance--but anyone looking for that should opt for a Bluetooth speaker instead. Also, there's no dock for charging Apple handhelds, but the whole point here is that you can control the Sonos S5 from across the room--you don't want to be tethered to the speaker. (The S5 does have a line-in jack, so you can directly patch in any external device.)
The Sonos ZonePlayer S5 will be available by the end of October. We'll be getting our first hands-on listen next week, and following up with a full CNET review thereafter. (We're particularly interested to hear how its sounds and performs versus the $300
Are you an existing Sonos owner--or someone who's tempted to take the plunge? Or do you have a competing product you'd like to suggest to iPhone owners looking to broaden their in-home listening options? Share your thoughts below.