When Sonos first released its Digital Music System last year it got some excellent reviews. Allowing you to beam music wirelessly to any room in your home and orchestrate the entire process from a neatly designed remote control, it looked a winner. Unfortunately the cost was prohibitive, which is why Sonos has come back with a cheaper product, the ZP80.
For £779, you can buy just the controller unit and two ZP80 ZonePlayers. The £1,159 pack adds two pairs of loudspeakers. Each ZonePlayer can be connected to a separate music system or set of powered speakers, so you can use it to play music in two rooms.
There is, unfortunately, a problem with the way the system has to be set up. The whole point of the Sonos system is that it uses wireless technology to beam music from room to room. However, the first ZonePlayer must be connected to an ethernet interface on your broadband router or computers using an old-fashioned cable.
Once that's done, the first ZonePlayer can link to the iTunes library on a Mac or PC and beam the contents to the second unit elsewhere in your home. But because of the need for an ethernet connection, the first ZonePlayer will almost certainly be in the same room as the router. And if it's anywhere near your computer, which presumably has speakers, you won't need to use the first unit as anything other than a wireless base station. This is a real waste if you've already got a wireless network set up.
The brilliantly designed remote control unit is a plus, allowing you to control your music library without needing to be tethered to the computer. However, this still doesn't make Sonos worth the huge outlay. Apple's AirPort Express is a far less elegant solution, but it costs a fraction of the price.