Three Things I Want From Sonos

Dave Zatz —  March 21, 2010

The Sonos S5 ($399) was one of my 2009 boxes of the year. With good reason. Sonos is a sophisticated but easy to implement and easy to operate whole-home audio solution. Featuring content from both our local music collections and various online sources. The S5 broke new ground in the Sonos lineup by integrating rich, powerful speakers into their connected receiver. Sonos is not an inexpensive solution (especially since you won’t stop with just one room), but it’s clearly the best at what it does. Yet, what’s next?

A Sonos email survey I received a few days ago alluded to several interesting expansion possibilities. As I still have a loaner unit on hand, I’ve got a few ideas….

1. Downsize
The survey item I snapped above includes an option for a less expensive unit than the S5 that would replace an alarm clock radio. And that was indeed my top selection on this screen. Not so much on the pricing point, but on the size and usage point. The S5 isn’t huge, but it’s physically too big for most night stands. Also, the the sound is too big for, and will wasted in, most bedrooms. So I’d love to see a nightstand model for the bedroom, a form factor which could also be used in the office.

2. Embrace the Android
The iPhone remote control app is quite impressive. Considering all it does, including replacing a dedicated piece of hardware and despite my little UI nav nits. However, there are plenty of folks who don’t own Apple hardware that might appreciate a Sonos app. And at my briefing last fall, Sonos did indicate additional mobile clients could be on tap for 2010. My first choice, given a probable defection from AT&T to the Sprint/Google/HTC Nexus One in the very near future, is Android support.

3. Bring the Slacker
I’ve come to prefer Slacker‘s niche programming over Pandora‘s acoustic similarities. Which regularly resulted in bizarre, unrelated pairings. I love the Led Zeppelin. But not when I’m in a 90s grunge kind of mood. So I’d like to see some Slacker on Sonos. And, shortly after CES, I put the two companies in touch with hopes of seeing them resolve this shortcoming. As it’s probably the #1 reason I haven’t tricked out every room with a S5. I love Sonos, but content is king. Bring it.

17 responses to Three Things I Want From Sonos

  1. Since I’m seriously thinking of getting a Google Nexus One I second your motion to develop a Sonos app for the Android platform.

  2. I prefer Pandora to Slacker but don’t need either one on my cellphone.

  3. I love Sonos, but I would like to see them add isn’t on the survey. I’d like to see a Sonos software client for Mac, PC, Apple Airport, Apple TV, Xbox, and PS3. How nice would it be to be able to play the same audio streaming on my Sonos to another computer or to an Airport?

    Unfortunately, I think Sonos has the short sighted view that anything other than selling a box is cannibalizing their sales, but I know I for one would purchase a license, and I’m sure they could lock that license to hardware mac addresses, or even have it phone home for verification. It’d be worth it.

  4. How about making the iPhone into a zoneplayer so you can lie in bed or around the house, controling the sonos from your iPhone but also listening to the music via headphones on your iPhone

  5. I really don’t understand why Slacker wouldn’t already be available on the Sonos. Seriously, shouldn’t both companies be in the loop enough to have made this happen a long time ago? They are both pretty big fish in each of their respective ponds. Sigh, it just seems silly they need someone to put them in touch with each other.

  6. A black S5 please….so my wife will allow it on the kitchen counter!

  7. Luke, I get the sense they had talked before. But I hope I reignited the flame. So many have gotten behind Pandora, which clearly has more buzz and listeners. But, for my money Slacker’s a better solution. I think Sonos support would be good for both of them. And it’d surely be good for me.

    Rawnson, we’ve got stainless appliances with brown & black countertops. The S5 actually looks pretty decent on the bar between the kitchen and living space. But, yeah, black has been a frequent request as long as I’ve been following these guys.

  8. Manage both my rhapsody downloads and the albums I own in one interface. Right now, they are two separate lists. It should be seemless. Explaining it to first time users is awkward.

  9. Ditto on slacker! I woulnt have bought the logitech squeezebox radio otherwise.
    Great bedroom option Dave!

  10. Dave, I got this reply from Sonos last month, so I remain hopeful:

    “We don’t have any plans at this time to make the S5 in an alternative color; however, a lot of people ask for it in black, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduced something in the future to meet the demand, but there is nothing imminent.”

  11. I was impatiently waiting for Lala support, but now that Apple owns them, probably never going to happen.

    Beyond music, I’d really like them to get into video streaming – with the rock solid mesh wireless system they have, it seems like a natural progression to move into multimedia streaming.

    Nobody really owns this space yet, and Tivo can’t seem to get their priorities straight, and to Apple it’s just a hobby – leaves it wide open!

  12. There actually is a pretty good, user developed Android app for Sonos called Andronos. It is in the Market. Unfortunately, it does not have Pandora because the developer is outside the U.S., and can’t even get Pandora.

  13. Problem with the Radio/Alarm clock is that if they do it, it will have no screen and won’t have any additional functionality. The S5 is too much for the nightstand, so I took the audio hit and bought a Squeezebox Radio. I was really hopeful for some useful apps next to the bed, but the app outlook for the Squeezebox Radio isn’t so great.

    Looks like the next best bet is to get an iPad stand (although I’m sure the auto-off isn’t going to be useful for an alarm clock) and put it next to the bed or the Sony Dash/Chumby. Screens looks nice, has the basics, audio quality won’t be great – but don’t know of ay other options out there.

    Tough to demand something of Sonos and then want them to produce something unlike they have ever done before :)

  14. Ever since I saw the Droid multimedia dock I consider it the ultimate bedroom alarm clock. You just use the phone you already carry around with you, docked sideways, and it automatically switches to the alarm clock app when you dock it, using magnets! Awesome. Make me one for the iPhone and I’d be there already. I don’t need extra speakers, just a simple flip number alarm clock app and a way to keep the phone charged up. A Sonos app for the iPhone and you’re done…

  15. Glenn, I’ve tried a alarm clock app for the iPhone. The screen will never dim enough. Probably same with the Droid. The whole panel is lit even when it’s black or other dark color. Need a different tech or a much smaller LCD for the time portion.

  16. Here’s an accessory idea then — a black plastic piece that covers the screen, but has old-style clock display cutouts for digits (like on red or green alarm clocks) through which a light can shine through.

    Better than 95% other accessories :)

  17. I would love to see some sort of all weather radio solution. An all weather solution could also work in inconvenient indoor places such as bathrooms.