Sonos Play:3 hands-on

Sonos is changing. It’s moving from a high-end speaker maker for a niche few, to something that is going to dominate speaker sales in places like John Lewis for the next few years.

Ready to finally take on the mainstream speaker market, the company that allows you to have the same music playing in multiple rooms at the same time, all streamed from the internet, be it radio or via services like Spotify, is marching towards your living room with gusto and speed.

The spearhead of this new attack is the launch of a new smaller speaker called the Play:3, that, combined with a “bridge” box connected to the internet, will lend your music listening habits a new lease of life for just under £300.

For those that have been following the company for the past couple of years, it’s its boldest move yet into the consumer space. And, from what we’ve heard with a quick demo of the product, it's likely to be a very successful one, allowing iPhone, iPad and Android users to enjoy their music without having to dock their phone.

Following the huge success of the company’s ZonePlayer S5, Sonos has announced a new speaker and an identity rebrand to make it more approachable.

Gone are the complicated and rather geeky references to Zoneplayers. As too has the complicated logo. In their place is a new smaller speaker, called the Play:3; as part of a new brand identity that will also see the S5 rebranded Play:5.

Priced at £259, the Play:3 is roughly half the size of the S5 (sorry, we mean Play:5) and designed to fit into kitchens, bedrooms and anywhere where space is limited.

Building on that “limited space” idea, the speaker can be positioned landscape or vertical (the sound dynamic is automatically changed accordingly thanks to an on-board accelerometer) or even wall mounted, to save you even more space if you just want to get it up and out of the way.

The speaker comes in black or white from day one and, if you’re greedy and get two Play:3s, you can pair them together to create true stereo sound.

It can also be connected to other Sonos speakers at the press of a button, comes with three integrated speakers and three dedicated digital amplifiers. There is also bass at the back to produce a sound that any current Sonos owner will be very happy with, and one that will impress new users when compared to most speakers on the market. Sadly, unlike the Play:5, there is no line-in option. You also won’t be able to pair it with the Play:5 for stereo sound either.

Like with other Sonos kit, the speaker works by connecting either directly to the internet via an Ethernet socket, or more easily to the company’s Bridge box that creates it’s own wireless network around the house. And to help accelerate growth, the company is halving the price of the Bridge (as well as dropping the Zone bit in the name) from £79.99 to £39.99, meaning you’ll be able to get the Play:3 and the Bridge for just under £300.

Ears on, it sounds very good, with the Play:3 coping well in our demo in a large Penthouse suite in the Soho Hotel in London.

Sonos attempted to woo us with some smooth jazz, but we weren’t having any of it, forcing us to grab a nearby demo iPad running the Sonos software in order to slam Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit on instead.

The results are great. It coped perfectly well with the highs of the lead guitar and the bass without distortion, and that's including streaming from Spotify.

We’ve been promised a review unit in the next few days and will be bringing you a full, in-depth test of how it performs in the home.

Those not investing in the new speaker, out today, will be getting an update to their software nonetheless. Version 3.5 is really just to include the new speaker, and update the branding of the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 in your lineup to the Play:5. There are no extra features at this time, Sonos confirmed with Pocket-lint.

At present, there is no word on whether the company will be creating a Honeycomb version of their very popular Android app, or whether they will be developing BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7 versions of their controller. The company’s European boss gave us a blank face when we asked.



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