Tuesday, 15 October 2013 05:05

Play:1 - Sonos' new baby

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Sonos has released its first sub-$300 wireless speaker.

Two years ago this writer welcomed the release of the Sonos Play:3 wireless speaker, observing that "while $419 for the Play:3 still isn't pocket money, it seems less likely to frighten off the not so well-heeled" compared with the $599 for the Play:5.

The attraction of Sonos equipment is that it provides a hub for all your music (owned or streamed) through an iOS or Android app, and it is easy to install in as many or as few rooms of your home as you wish thanks to its wireless mesh network that operates independently of other Wi-Fi networks in the home.

The same music can be played through multiple speakers so you can listen as you move around the house, or different tracks can be played in different rooms.

And to your correspondent's relatively uneducated ears, it sounds pretty damn good.

The company has now extended its range at the low end with the Play:1.

This mini but mighty device costs $299 yet has all the usual Sonos features and is part of the company's vision to "fill your home with music."

At that price it is a lot closer to 'Sonos for everybody' than previous models were.

Available in black or white, the Play:1 can be used individually (it is humidity proof and so can be used in bathrooms and kitchens) or in stereo pairs.

Your correspondent heard a demonstration in a large kitchen/family room, and despite their compact size one or two Play:1 units were able to fill it with clear, undistorted sound. Those who love their bass can add a Sonos Sub wireless subwoofer.

The Play:1 may also appeal to owners of the Sonos Playbar soundbar who want to add rear speakers, as they are more compact than the Play:3 and Play:5, and also make provision for a mounting bracket.

Although the number in Sonos model names usually denotes the number of drivers, the Play:1 features two Sonos-designed Class D digital amplifiers and drivers, including a 'mid-woofer' with what is said to be an unusually long throw.

As a special offer, Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5 units purchased between 15 October 2013 and 1 January 2014 come with a free Sonos Bridge. The use of a Bridge means all the Sonos units in a home can be used wirelessly - without it, one of them must be connected via Ethernet. [NB: An update to the Sonos software in September 2014 allows Sonos speakers to connect directly to an existing Wi-Fi network in most circumstances.]

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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