I’m a huge fan of Sonos. It’s a great way to enjoy the music that resides on your computer throughout your house, even on the patio. I discovered Sonos nearly four years ago when I was building my home and looking for a whole house music system. I am delighted with my selection.
Sonos recently released a new wireless controller, the CR200. The old one did the trick, but it used a wheel and button interface and was a bit large. The CR200 has a touch screen, is less than half the size, lighter and full color.
It was a snap to add to my system. Fully charged right out of the box, all I had to do was plug in the docking station and touch the screen to wake it up. Synching it with my zone bridge players was as simple as pressing two buttons on one of the boxes. I was listening to music and scrolling through the bright display in less than five minutes. It picked-up my local time and let me add basic services like Pandora. I logged into my Pandora account from the controller and all my stations were right there waiting for me. The touch screen keypad conveniently had the @ symbol and . right there on the main key interface. Nice detail.
The user interface is greatly improved over the previous controller. The screen surface is very responsive to the touch. You can move faster through the playlist by flicking your finger faster. It has different audio cues depending on where you are in the interface and what you are tapping on the screen. The front has only four buttons, everything else is controlled on screen by navigating through an intuitive interface structure. The back has a rubberized non-slip skin that helps you hang onto the controller as well as provide a cushion when you set it on furniture. It has definitely borrowed a bit from the iPhone, but why not. Sonos evokes Apple in my mind; clean, focused and innovative.
Battery life seems to be more than adequate, but the controller range was a bit disappointing. I have a relatively large home, but it’s not a mansion. I lose the signal when I walk from the main media room into my study where I am now typing this post. Am anxious to try it from my patio (in a few months, it’s 13° right now) where the old controller would lose connection. As far as I’m concerned this is the only draw back, but certainly not a fatal flaw. Sonos products are not inexpensive. This particular controller lists for $349, which seems high when you think about handsets, but remember those are offset with the monthly fees. Sonos is a buy it, install it and enjoy it. No monthly charges. I have had no hardware problems in that time and the only software issue was resolved quickly by their free technical support.
Full disclosure: I have been a vocal fan of Sonos over the years and was offered a promotional discount on this item. There was no expectation or request on their part that I write a product review. I viewed it as a loyalty reward.