Sonos Goes 802.11n

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on August 5, 2008

One of the great things about the Sonos wireless digital music streaming system is that it just works. Except, that is, for people who live in homes with thick walls or who suffer from other types of wireless interference.

If you’re one of those people, today is a good day. The California company officially took the wraps off its first hardware revamp of its hit product. The new ZonePlayer 120, with its own built-in amplifier, is a third smaller than the ZonePlayer 100. It is more powerful at 55 watts per channel versus 50 watts previous, and has double the wireless range (using proprietary meshing technology of 802.11n Wi-Fi).

Under relatively new president and COO, Phil Abram, a former Sony exec, the company also has updated its website to make it less geeky, with user love stories and pictures of use-cases for the system in the home.

The one thing that hasn’t changed? Sonos remains a premium product. The entry-level bundle, the BU150 with one ZonePlayer 150, a ZP90 box that connects to your home theater and wireless control pad, will set you back $1,000 . It costs even more if you need to purchase speakers to hook up to them. I’ve been testing the new system for a couple of days now, and it’s still worth the price. I continually marvel that you never feel buyer’s remorse, thanks to Sonos’ continual updates of new software and music services, which make the device ever more versatile.

It may sound like cheerleading, but privately held Sonos does that to you. The company has plenty of other fans. While the home audio business is declining by 5-7% per year, Sonos executives say they are on track to grow the business 50% year over year in 2008.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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