Multiroom audio system manufacturer Sonos already had a pretty solid controller, but the company must have really loved the response to the Apple iPhone/iPod touch app it came out with last year.
The app could turn your beloved portable device into a controller for the Sonos music system, with all of the touchpad ease and swiping and scrolling that’s made the iPhone/iPod touch products so popular.
So why not take everything that was going on in that very successful app and pack it into a Sonos-branded controller. After all, not everyone has or wants an Apple product, but it’s easy to buy a Sonos system bundle (the latest BU250 bundle includes the CR200, ZP120, ZP90 and cradle) that comes with a controller (or you can get one separately to add on to your system). And presto, you’ve got the new Sonos Controller 200 (CR200), complete with a 3.5-inch full-color VGA display that’s a capacitive touchscreen.
As company co-founder Tom Cullen was telling us when Sonos visited our Electronic House and CE Pro office here in Massachusetts, there’s so much music readily available that key features now for any music buff include a search function and a quick scroll function. The CR200 has both, with the touchscreen keyboard and a nifty little feature that lets you touch, hold and slide a button to scroll alphabetically through listings.
Of course, Sonos not only taps into your own networked music library, but the millions of songs available from Napster, Rhapsody, Pandora, Last.fm as well as streaming from Sirius satellite channels. So that’s quite a bit of music overload. You need ease of operation to get from Allman Brothers to Zappa and everything in between, or choosing from thousands of Internet radio channels.
Plus you can drop the same song into many rooms at once, or need to pick out many songs to play in many rooms. With the CR200, as we played with in the office controlling a relatively simple two-zone setup, you’re able to group the zones or control volume individually.
The three hard buttons are for mute, volume up/down and zone, with the latter two taking you to the keys for any night of entertainment. In the zone menu, you can tap whatever area you want to work in—bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc. Then go to the music menu and pick whatever source you want to stream, either from your networked storage drive, computer hard drive or music service.
Sonos noted how people want familiarity in their controls, and the new controller is as intuitive as it gets—and a snap for anyone who’s picked up an iPod or iPhone. Plus with the new Sonos 3.0 software update you also get one-touch access to music metadata or “Info View” from Last.fm or Rhapsody to get even more info on a particular artist, like concert info.
Here’s a roundup of the features and specs, straight from Sonos:
- Instant on — Pick up the Controller or touch the screen and it’s instantly ready to play music.
- Dedicated buttons — Mute, Volume and Zones buttons provide shortcuts to the most often used functions.
- Quick, intuitive search — Instantly find the artist, song, radio station, or radio show you want to listen to by typing on the on-screen keyboard. Suggestions are provided as you type.
- Superior wireless performance — The CR200 works on SonosNet (Sonos’ proprietary mesh network) ensuring that you get the best wireless performance of any wireless music product on the market with no interference.
- Easy zone management — Take music with you as you move through the house by linking rooms with ease (and without interrupting music playback).
- Multi-room volume control — Change the volume in a single room, or in several rooms, all from the same screen.
- Great for using outdoors — The CR200 features a transflective screen, making it easy to use while listening to music outdoors on a sunny day.
- Long-life and replaceable battery — Comes with a high capacity lithium ion battery that gets about five days of usage between charges and can easily be replaced.
- Compatible — The CR200 is compatible with all existing and previously purchased Sonos Multi-Room Music System hardware.
Zone Menu, Keyboard views:
Music Menu, Pandora views:
Also, here’s a video demonstration:
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.