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Sonos adds free iPhone app, Last.fm, expanded Internet radio options

Last.fm, RadioTime, and a free iPhone app are the latest additions to the Sonos multi-room digital music streamer.

iPhone running the Sonos Controller application.

Add iPhone control, Last.fm, and an expanded Internet radio roster to Sonos' bag of tricks.

Starting Tuesday, a free application available at the iTunes App Store will allow iPhone and iPod Touch owners to control their Sonos digital audio system via their home's Wi-Fi network. The Sonos Controller for iPhone provides the Apple handheld with most of the same functions as the Sonos CR100 Controller, but provides direct touch-screen access not available on the latter device.

The Sonos system can already be controlled via its companion Windows and Mac software, but the iPhone Controller provides a much more convenient and accessible interface to the multiroom music system.

In addition to providing a secondary control option for existing Sonos owners, the Controller App also lowers the effective entry-level price for the Sonos. The company's two-room bundle, the $1,000 BU150, includes a ZP120 base station (with built-in amplifier), ZP90 base station (no amp), and CR100 remote. Previously, those looking for a single-room option were left with purchasing a separate ZP90 ($350) and CR100 ($400), netting out to a very pricey $750.

But the availability of the iPhone application means consumers can grab a ZP90 and an iPod Touch for $580. Still a lot of money, to be sure, but now you're getting top-notch home and portable digital music players. And existing iPhone or iPod Touch owners, of course, need only get the ZP90 or ZP120.

Photos: Sonos Controller iPhone App

Sonos is also updating the product's firmware to version 2.7. The free upgrade (it's a one-touch automatic free download for all Sonos systems, available now) adds the following:

  • Last.fm compatibility: Access to Last.fm's free online music service. (Disclosure: Last.fm and CNET are both properties of CBS Interactive.)
  • RadioTime support: Access to more than 15,000 free Internet radio stations from around the world, powered by RadioTime. (Sonos already provided access to most of these stations, but the RadioTime front-end should deliver an easier interface and better organization.)
  • Enhanced Pandora support: In addition to Pandora's paid subscription Internet music service, Sonos now offers access to Pandora's free, ad-supported version.
  • Enhanced Rhapsody support: Rhapsody sound quality has been boosted from 128Kbps WMA to 192Kbps MP3 streams.
  • Looks like we're going to have to update our Apple TV vs. Sonos vs. Logitech Squeezebox shoot-out. (And don't be surprised if Logitech rolls out its own version of the iPhone-friendly iPeng remote software in the future as well.) In the meantime, what do you think: Does the firmware upgrade and the iPhone application make the Sonos a more attractive home audio streaming option for you? Share your thoughts below.