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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. It will be available on 29th October.
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, 7Digital, Deezer, Napster and more: the list goes on. About the only major services I can think of that we get in the UK so far unsupported are Google Music and 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 that you either need to plug a Sonos directly into your router to get the whole thing running, or buy a Sonos Bridge. The good news is that the company is giving away a free Bridge with every Play 1 until the end of the year.
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.