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Pretty much every review I've read or written of a Sonos product has the same conclusion: love the product, hate the high price. But competition for music streamers is heating up: Spotify is letting speaker manufactures integrate its streaming service right into their products, Apple's AirPlay is becoming more popular and Bluetooth speakers are cheaper than ever.
But Sonos has been the undisputed king of streaming music speakers for years, so it's not taking this fight lying down. The Play 1 offers all the same services its Play 3 and speakers do, but at £169, it's a good £80 cheaper than the cheapest model until now.
Lots of music services
There are a few reasons Sonos speakers are generally so great. One is that they are basically mini-computers that stream music directly from loads of different online services without the need for a phone, computer or NAS box to be turned on. Spotify, Amazon Cloud Player, Google Music, 7Digital, Deezer, Soundcloud, Napster and more: the list goes on. About the only major service I can think of that we get in the UK so far unsupported is iTunes Match.
Another area Sonos scores highly is in the way its wireless works. The speakers don't use Wi-Fi to communicate with each other, instead creating a special network just for music that tends to be a lot less prone to dropouts and interference.
One downside of this is used to be that you needed to buy a £40 extra box called a Sonos Bridge to plug into your router and get the whole thing working. That option is still required if you have Wi-Fi problems or you want to use the Play 1 as a surround sound speaker to go with the Sonos Playbar, Sonos's sound bar. But otherwise you can just connect the Play 1 to your Wi-Fi router and not pay extra for the Bridge.
Easy to set up
The Play 1 is as easy to set up as all the other Sonos products I've tried -- just download the control software to your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android mobile and follow the on-screen instructions. Once you have linked your controller to the speaker, you add the music sources, including a NAS drive, computer and the music stored on your phone.
Sonos designed the Play 1 with small rooms in mind and says it put it through stringent tests to ensure it's resistant to moisture. So it should be fine to place it in a steamy kitchen.
It's important to note that the company isn't saying the speaker is waterproof, so you'll need to make sure you don't spill anything on it. But Sonos told me it's so confident of its design it will repair any damage caused to the speaker by humidity, providing it's within warranty.