For many, the perceived high cost of getting into a Sonos wireless home audio system has been a significant barrier. While you crave whole-home, distributed audio that just works without pops, hisses, or clicks, you simply can't justify dropping $350 on a ZonePlayer ZP90 and another $200 or so for a pair of decent amplified speakers. Even then, you're still only talking about a single room -- adding more rooms (or zones) and dedicated Sonos controllers jacks the price up even higher. Today, Sonos fills a significant gap in its product portfolio with the introduction of its $399 / €399 all-in-one ZonePlayer S5 speaker. The 217 x 365 x 123-mm S5 brings a decidedly Bose-like external design while packing a 5-driver speaker system (two tweeters, two 3-inch mids, and a built-in 3.5-inch sub) that's meant to fill a room with Sonos' wireless audio. And because the ZonePlayer is integrated right into the all-in-one chassis, it easily drops into your existing Sonos device network to extend audio into any room that needs it -- no wiring required. There's even a headphone jack for stealth listening in the bedroom. Of course, the beauty of Sonos is in the wide variety of audio sources available: freebies like thousands of internet radio stations, your iTunes library, CIFS NAS storage, or line-in devices like your home stereo or MP3 player; or subscriptions music services like Last.fm, Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius, or Deezer depending upon your geographic location.
If you already have an iPhone or iPod touch and the ability to easily network the S5 back into your router (via fixed Ethernet or close proximity), then $399 / €399 is what it now takes to get started with Sonos. Otherwise, you'll need to add a $99 / €99 ZoneBridge to link the S5 to your router over Sonos' proprietary SonosNet 2.0 (think 802.11n but optimized for distributed mesh audio) and another $349 / €349 for the dedicated CR200 controller if the free PC / Mac software controllers don't serve your need. We'll be getting our hands-on with a unit soon and will update you with our subjective listening experience. Until then, you can ponder the "end of October" and November 10th ship dates for the US and Europe, respectively. Video demonstration after the break.