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While I’m talking about networking, it’s also worth remembering that Sonos has always been clever with its wireless implementation, by creating a mesh network in your home. This means that each ZonePlayer you add to your home acts as a wireless repeater for all the others, thus extending the wireless range. I tested the merits of the mesh networking when I installed the system in my house. Having recently had an extension built, it allowed me to place the ZP120 at the opposite end of the house from my router. I also placed the ZP120 in a closed AV cabinet, surrounded by various gaming consoles, HD players and my Sky box - a fairly hostile environment for any wireless device. With the cabinet door closed, the wireless connection to the ZP120 was fairly flaky at best, and just about usable once the door was open. However, when I setup the ZP90 in my dining room, which sits mid point through the house, the ZP120 had no problem connecting wirelessly - basically I’d halved the distance that the wireless signal had to travel, since the ZP90 acted as a repeater.
One thing that you don’t get in the BU150 bundle is a ZoneBridge. This little box of tricks allows you to connect up to your home network, without having to waste a ZonePlayer - it will set you back an extra £69, but considering the ZP90 costs £249, it’s a far more cost effective solution if your router/switch isn’t in a convenient place. That said, Sonos has done the right thing by not bundling the ZoneBridge, because if you did have your router near your Hi-Fi, you could use the ZP90 to connect up to the network and stream music.
I’m still slightly stunned by how easy it is to setup and use a Sonos system, especially considering the amount of technology that’s squeezed into each box. Even a novice user should be up and running in less than an hour - in fact the most time consuming part is deciding where you want to place each ZonePlayer, and how many rooms in your house you’d like filled with music. The Sonos Desktop software disc is both Windows and Mac compatible - a smart move, considering that most Mac users tend to have pretty extensive iTunes libraries.
Once you’ve setup all your ZonePlayers, you can just point your Sonos system at any folders on your network that contain music, whether on a PC or a NAS appliance, which is where I keep all my music. If you’re an iPod user and you have a NAS appliance, you’ll probably be using the latter as an iTunes server like me, but even if your network storage doesn’t support iTunes, it doesn’t matter, because Sonos needs nothing more than a folder path to access all your stored music. And if you drop more music into the folder, it’s a simple one button update from either the desktop application or the remote handset to bring the Sonos library into line.
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