Sonos has sent us a pair of its superb S5 music streamers, a remote with the beta version of Spotify available for us to test. We're as pleased as punch, because this is one of the most exciting things to happen to the excellent audio streaming hardware.
The Spotify integration works just as you would expect. Like Last.fm and Napster, an icon is added to the home screen of your remote -- be it the Sonos hardware, on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
When you press the Spotify button, you're taken straight to a list of your playlists. It's here we found the first problem with the service, because it's not just your online Spotify playlists that show up, but also your imported lists from your main PC, which don't work. If you don't use Spotify on a PC, or you didn't import your own music, you won't have this problem. If you did, be prepared for a lot of scrolling through playlists you can't use. Not a massive problem, but annoying nonetheless.
The good news is the interface is incredibly fast -- far more like it is on the PC than the buggy Spotify mobile phone apps, which are beginning to become tiresome. Scrolling is silky smooth, in the way we've come to expect from UI experts like Sonos. We did notice that some albums weren't available to stream to the Sonos -- Eminem's Recovery is one example. We don't know why this is, and we're hoping it's just a glitch in the beta test.
While it's a superb experience, it's not a cheap way to access Spotify, because the cheapest Sonos hardware is £280, and you'll need to add on £10 a month for Spotify Premium and whatever remote option you want -- iPhone, iPod touch or the Sonos controller. It is, however, a great way to listen to music via the Internet, on-demand.