Sonos, market leader in the WiFi-speaker space, announced on its blog an important product update, eliminating the requirement to plug a Sonos component directly into the home’s wireless router. The software-delivered update will enter a beta-testing period before the official release.
The current Sonos product, much praised for excellent sound and function, allows placement of multiple speakers around a home, each of which communicates with the others, and with a masterminding piece of equipment called the Sonos BRIDGE. (Yes, all caps.) The BRIDGE (no yelling, if you’re reading this aloud) creates a distinct wifi network among the speakers, keeping them all synchronized.
Users can also connect one of the speakers to the home’s router, but (as TechCrunch amusingly points out), that’s often not a desirable spot for a speaker.
In the new update, the Sonos speakers will act more like laptops of tablets, receiving the home’s router signal wirelessly. that might not seem like a man-on-Mars technical achievement, but the key is maintaining a tightly controlled mini-network without a wired connection to the router.
The upshot for new buyers will be a slightly less expensive complete system — Sonos is a premium consumer electronics product whose individual speakers are priced up to $400. For existing users, the benefit will be optional disconnection of the BRIDGE — or, more significantly, moving the a router-connected speaker to a more desirable location.