In addition to previewing the upcoming ZonePlayer ZP80, Sonos announced that it will again expand the capabilities of its with a forthcoming firmware update. Once installed, the 1.3 version of the system software--available as a free and automatic upgrade to existing systems--will allow Sonos users to stream Audible's downloadable "books on tape," as well as the uncompressed Apple Lossless digital music files favored by many a golden-eared audiophile. The upgrade adds a variety of other tweaks and improvements to the system, including the full-screen display of album art on the controller's LCD screen, WPA wireless encryption, and improved playlist and queue control.
In addition to these new features, the Sonos system could already stream a formidable list of audio formats, from the mainstream MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF, and WAV to the more obscure FLAC and Ogg Vorbis. But with the notable exception of its support for Rhapsody's on-demand audio service, Sonos has something of an Achilles' heel when it comes to music files purchased from online stores. Currently, the system can't stream the PlaysForSure WMA format or FairPlay-encoded AAC files; that means music you bought and paid for from Musicmatch, Napster, or Apple's iTunes Music Store remain marooned on your PC's hard drive. We don't blame Sonos--Microsoft seems skittish about licensing its PlaysForSure format to multiroom-capable systems such as Sonos, and Apple doesn't license its FairPlay DRM to any third parties.