Battery-Powered Sonos

Sonos gets beaten up because it lacks a battery-powered product.  Well known for its focus and a conservative product line-up, Sonos requires you to take a plugged-in extension cord wherever you want to enjoy the system – such as on your deck or by your back-yard pool.  My own experiments with battery-powering a PLAY:1 give insight on why Sonos is stubborn, besides just their determined desire to own the domestic space (rather than audio in the car, or on the beach for that matter). Continue reading

When Zenith Mattered – 1950s User Interface Design

I’m a big fan of new technology, but occasionally something ancient like my Zenith radio shows me how a twist on old technology improves a product design and user experience.  My grandfather Hale T. Shenefield’s 1950-vintage Zenith AM radio (G503 / Chassis 5G41) takes a routine technology of the day – tuning a variable capacitor by a string-and-pulley system – and uses the method advantageously to give the radio a simple operation and clean appearance.

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CES 2014 Impressions – ClearView Audio

Just returning from CES 2014 in Las Vegas, I contemplated what made the biggest impression on me.  It’s not 4K “UltraHD” TVs, this year with curved screens.  It’s not the “Sonos killers.”  I’m hard to impress, having gone to this show for years.  The product that struck me the most was relatively simple – the ClearView Audio Clio Bluetooth wireless speaker with a clear panel producing the sound.  The fact that the product came from renamed local Boston company Emo Labs was a complete surprise that I discovered later.

ClearView speaker and a Shrubbery

ClearView speaker and a Shrubbery

However, I found myself being more impressed by the quality and extent of press coverage – certainly no accident – than even Continue reading

Congratulations to Crutchfield!

I have to offer my congratulations this Sunday before Christmas to Crutchfield for successfully bridging the consumer electronics gender gap!

Crutchfield holiday 2013

Crutchfield has always been a “home team favorite” for me, since I grew up in Virginia and was into Crutchfield’s original focus area of car audio since the Jensen Triax days.  But of course car audio, and much of home consumer electronics in general, have been in the male domain.  The last couple of decades in CE have been about cultivating Continue reading

Why I like the Sonos PLAY:1 … (part 3 – computer speaker system, and THREE-channel stereo!)

In this blog series on the Sonos PLAY:1 I’ve been describing observations and experiences with the product in a variety of configurations, so far concentrating on stereo usage and adding a subwoofer – either Sonos’ own SUB or any sub you want, using my vintage ZonePlayer (similar to the current “CONNECT” or “CONNECT:AMP” products).

Used in its purest form, the PLAY:1 already does a great job in several very different (but more routine) applications.  Most people will just use 1, or maybe 2, of the speakers on a shelf or kitchen counter or nightstand.  Custom installers will find applications for PLAY:1 units around the house, owing to its humidity resistance (important in a bathroom or covered porch), small size, and integral threaded insert on the back (for wall mounting with an Omnimount 10.0 W/C or equivalent).  This time around I want to show two usages a bit more off the beaten path – using the PLAY:1 as a desktop computer speaker and also building a three-channel stereo system. Continue reading

Why I like the Sonos PLAY:1… (part 2 – adding stereo and bass)

In my earlier blog article I commented on the first rate fit and finish of the new Sonos PLAY:1.  This time I want to share some of my experiences combining different Sonos pieces – I wanted to configure different systems for more functionality and performance compared with typical usage of the Sonos products.  What I found was that the products were surprisingly configurable.  This aspect of Sonos system capability is admirable and probably not accidental – I think it a result of their considering all the possibilities and testing them exhaustively.

SonosLogos_Large

In this article I will share my experiences setting up a Sonos 2.1 system (pair of speakers plus a subwoofer) including some less-than-obvious configurations combining Sonos and non-Sonos equipment.  Continue reading