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Sonos Launches Touch-Screen Controller

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Sonos Launches Touch-Screen Controller

At the beginning of the month details of the Sonos CR200 controller leaked onto the web, and many Sonos fans, myself included breathed a sigh of relief. If you're not aware of Sonos' multi-room, wireless music streaming systems, have a quick look at the Sonos BU150 bundle that I reviewed last year. And although that bundle represented a great package at an attractive price, the CR100 controller was really starting to look dated.

Although the iPod-like wheel on the CR100 was ideal for navigating large music libraries a few years back, the development of Sonos' system meant that searching for specific tracks or artists in huge online libraries was far from intuitive. Plus, the launch of the iPhone/iPod touch Sonos app last year showed just how limiting the CR100 was.

But today, the CR200 is officially launching in the UK, so for all those Sonos users who have been praying for a touch-screen controller, the wait is now over. I'll admit that it has taken longer than I would have liked for the CR200 to arrive, but having got my paws on an early sample I can promise you that it was worth the wait. It's clear that Sonos didn't want to replace the CR100 until it had a product that was worthy of taking up the mantle.

First up, the CR200 fits perfectly in the hand, allowing for single handed operation - something that definitely wasn't an option with the CR100, unless you had hands like a bear! The back of the device has a rubberised finish, so it shouldn't slip out of your hand, and if you put it down on a table, the small rubber feet will ensure that it won't be easily knocked off. Another nice touch is that the CR200 has a user replaceable battery, with a new battery pack costing around £30.

The 3.5in screen is a fine example, with a resolution of 640 x 480 and LED backlighting, it really does offer a better experience than the old CR100 and even the iPhone. Sonos has also opted for capacitive touch-screen technology, so that it's very finger friendly, although the company has stopped short of implementing multi-touch functionality.

Like the CR100, the CR200 has a motion sensor so that it automatically switches on when it's picked up. However, the CR200 will also wake up when you tap the screen, allowing you to use it while it's still in the cradle, and since it reverts to a clock when not in use, you can give it a quick tap to check what the time is.

The CR200 will come with a docking cradle, unlike the CR100 and as such, the charger can't be plugged directly into the unit. As of today the CR200 will replace the CR100 in all Sonos bundles, with only a slight price increase to cover the cost of the bundled cradle, which wasn't part of the old bundles. For existing Sonos owners, the CR200 alone will set you back £279.

There's no doubt that the CR200 is a huge improvement over the old controller, with some great new features, but I'll save some surprises for the full review, so check back soon.

WyWyWyWy

July 28, 2009, 6:58 pm

Still no unicode support I guess?

Hamish Campbell

July 28, 2009, 7:25 pm

Ok, I get that this is an expensive system and a very good controller. But 279 pounds? Thats a bit mad for a remote control. Hope they keep the old version as a cheaper option for someone who loses their original.





For that amount you could buy a netbook and the functionality of those two devices and their prices just doesn't add up.

ChaosDefinesOrder

July 28, 2009, 9:09 pm

actually haim, what's more of a weird situation is that you can buy the cheapest iPod Touch and buy Sonos' remote application for cheaper than this Sonos made remote. Possibly even 2 of the lowest spec iTouch.





That's just stupid.

Moche

July 29, 2009, 1:54 am

I have to agree with ChaosDefinesOrder. This is just too expensive. A few months back I bought a single Sonos Player and a Sonos Bridge to supply music to one room (no need for multiple rooms yet). I ignored the bundle as I did not want an unamplified player and the old controller added too much to the price. Instead I have a 1st Gen iPod Touch doing the controller duties.





When I saw the news about the new touch controller I was interested/excited as I'd like to have a dedicated version, booted, charged and ready. But it had to be the right price. For me the right price that would have guaranteed a sale was under £100, but knowing Sonos like to be pricey, I probably would have been tempted and tried to justify it to myself up to £150. Hell, I would not have bought it, but I could even understand up to £199. I don't think that is a piffling amount and surely you'd expect Sonos to build a decent controller to undercut the cost of an iPod Touch? However, at the actual price of £279 they are mad! That is almost double the upper end of what I thought would be acceptable for me.





I'm sure we will probably hear from Riyad that Sonos have surprise extras, like a browser or maybe remote control of other audio visual equipment, who knows, but £279 is just ridiculous. I cannot see many existing customers bothering to upgrade and that seems like they are removing a possibly lucrative market.





More importantly, Sonos are losing my goodwill as a future customer. I don't feel inclined to extend my Sonos sytem to further rooms if they intend to fleece me at every opportunity.





Very, very disappointed and the "no Spotify on Sonos" news, so far unreported on TR, doesn't help either.

Premfab

July 29, 2009, 5:03 am

I'm sure this is a nice product, but the price is way too high ...





My advise is to get an ipod touch and run the sonos app. It is very good. You get the large touch screen and can also takes tunes with you on the go, check email, weather, surf the net, etc. And it's cheaper. No-brainer really.

Riyad

August 3, 2009, 1:09 am

There&#8217s no doubt that the iPhone/touch Sonos app is a good one, but anyone who thinks it is a better alternative to a dedicated controller for a Sonos system should consider a couple of points.





Let&#8217s look at the hardware itself first. Anyone who&#8217s running firmware 3.0 on anything other than an iPhone 3GS will be aware of just how sluggish your device is.





Consequently, let&#8217s set the scene - my music is playing and I want to, say, turn down the volume, or even skip to the next track. So, I take my iPhone/touch out of my pocket, I unlock it, I enter the security code if I&#8217ve chosen to set one up, I swipe to the page where my Sonos app is located, I launch my Sonos app, I then wait while my iPhone/touch grinds into life and brings up the Sonos screen, I can then control my system.





Now, the same situation with a dedicated controller - I pick it up and it works instantly. Good as the iPhone/touch app is, it&#8217s far from the ideal solution in my mind.





Also, you need to take into account that most people will take their iPhone or iPod touch out with them, thus leaving anyone else in the household with no controller for the Sonos install - hardly ideal. Then you have the issue of where your iPhone lives and charges, compared to having a dedicated controller docked in your living room.





Finally, if you live in a large house, with thick walls and poor Wi-Fi, your iPhone/touch will be very limited, since it is using your standard household Wi-Fi. That means that the further you are away from your router, the weaker the Wi-Fi signal. A dedicated Sonos controller on the other hand, uses the same mesh network as all of your ZonePlayers, so it only has to communicate with the nearest ZonePlayer, which will likely be in the same room.





As for the price of the controller, it&#8217s pretty much identical to the outgoing model, and the only addition to the cost of the bundle is the cost of the cradle which comes with the CR200 and was an optional extra with the CR100.





@Moche - I assume you live alone, or if not do you leave your iPod touch at home and use it only as a Sonos controller?





As for Spotify, I&#8217m not really a fan of anything that forces ads onto me, and if I&#8217m going to pay for a subscription to avoid ads, I&#8217d probably choose Napster. It&#8217s worth remembering that unlike the PC based Last.fm client, the Sonos version still gives you unlimited access to the whole Last.fm library.





Anyway, I&#8217ve go the CR200 set up at home right now, so I&#8217ll have a full review up in the next week or so.

Moche

September 11, 2009, 1:58 am

@Riyad





Lol! I wish I did live alone (sometimes). No I'm afraid I have the full compliment of wife, kids, dog, cats (I think that's everyone, sometimes it is hard to count them all). Sorry I saw this so late as you probably won't look back to an old story.





I do have a 1st Gen touch on firmware 2? that I use and my wife has a 3GS, so there's always an iPod Sonos controller around. However, I agree that a dedicated controller would be better. I've found the Sonos software feels a little flakey (several attempts to play a song before it loads etc.) though it is more likely to be the Wi-fi I guess.





But my real issue is the price. I've seen your subsequent review, but it still feels just too pricey to warrant the upgrade over the existing solution in our house. I honestly do not believe that Sonos need to charge this amount. I think they see themselves as a company like Apple that can charge well over the odds for their products. Great as Apple are, we know the mark-up they enjoy, and I'd bet heavilly that Sonos are doing the same.





It is here where I think they are wrong. This was a great opportunity to sell a new touch controller to not only new system buyers, but existing system owners, but at that price it is way too much. They will get caught out eventually in the current climate (look out for New Yer discounts?), even Apple is ignoring extra features and concentrating on cost with their iPods.





But hey, how much can I complain when Sonos provides very similar functionality free to the legion of iPod and iPhone users out there?

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