Sonos has been loved by network audio streaming freaks for years. But its products have generally lived outside the realm of the more casual buyer. Now Sonos is updating its branding and introducing the Play:3, a smaller unit that still packs plenty of punch. At $419 RRP it's also in the right place to steal a lot of attention from the iPhone docking market.
The Sonos S5 has been a powerful audiophile-on-a-budget solution, featuring excellent digital amp technology and great features like stereo pairing for those who own more than one unit. But $599 still puts it just outside the domain of those who aren't sure how seriously committed they are to a CD-free streaming audio solution.
The S5 is being rebranded as the Play:5 and the new Play:3 steps in as the baby sibling, delivering most of the same features in a smaller unit and at a smaller price. We pumped up the volume on the Play:3 today (in a stereo paired arrangement) and found the same great clarity and power we expect from the S5. And at the lower price it becomes an easier commitment — or a smarter choice if you want to dive in on the sexy pairing options from day one.
One particularly stand out feature is intelligent rotation. The Play:3 can be placed flat as pictured or in an upright orientation. The speaker actually senses the change and automatically changes the speaker profile — you don't want a left-right distribution when left and right are vertically aligned. It's attention to smarts like this that sets Sonos apart.
Most people have only ever heard of Sonos in passing as one of those "guys with too much money buy those" products. The Play:3 puts Sonos into the frame against the Zeppelins and the Bose SoundDock iPod solutions. And when you stack up the features of 'high-end iPod docks' against the Sonos feature set and extensibility (you can control a house full of Sonos devices from one, or many, different devices) it's hard to see iPod docks maintaining the rage.
One day you'll outgrow a speaker dock. But Sonos will always have a place in our increasingly streaming friendly future.
Sonos Play:3 - $419 RRP [Playback Systems]