A new box that will let you turn existing Hi-Fi kit into an internet connected solution for around £45, has gone on sale in the UK, bringing streaming music services to thousands of new homes.
Called Gramofon, the black box plugs into your existing stereo via the supplied RCA cable and then connects to your Wi-Fi network (or Ethernet). It acts as a bridge, bringing streaming audio to your existing equipment, without the need to replace major components.
Costing around £45, a quarter of the price of Sonos, Gramofon is made by Fon, the company behind the world's largest Wi-Fi network.
One of the appealing features of Gramofon is that it adds Spotify Connect. This is Spotify's own system that will let you send the stream from your phone direct to the speaker you want playing it. You just hit the icon in the Spotify app and you'll find Gramofon there as an option.
It is not just Spotify though, the box also supports Qualcomm's AllPlay platform, opening up a range of additional services, including Napster, Rhapsody, TuneIn, Aupeo, doubleTwist and Soma FM.
There's the promise of more services coming to AllPlay in the future: Tidal (for higher fidelity streaming), SoundCloud and iHeart Radio.
Qualcomm's AllPlay allows you to stream music via cloud-based services and play music stored locally on your smartphone, tablet or computer, as well as adding multiroom functionality in a similar way to Sonos.
Manufacturers have expressed a strong interest in AllPlay, because unlike the closed Sonos platform, consumers can quickly and easily add products from a range of different manufacturers rather than just one.
As you might expect from a company known for Wi-Fi hotspots, the Gramofon also doubles as a Wi-Fi extender at the same time allowing you to extend the wireless network around your house.
Control of Gramofon is via the smartphone app, which you'll need to set-up the device. There's only the RCA cable in the box, however, so if you want to connect to a 3.5mm auxillary input, for example, you'll need to supply your own cable.
We'll be bringing you a full review of Gramofon in the near future.
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