As I mentioned previously in my blog, I purchased two network home music players: a Roku SoundBridge M2000 and a Sonos Digital Music System Bundle. I used both for a couple of weeks with the objective being a winner-take-all comparison where one is kept and the other is returned. A brief summary of the detailed results is posted below:
Setup: Sonos wins by a moderate margin; neither was excessively difficult but the Sonos was less confusing.
Music Format Support: Roku wins by a small margin because of WMA DRM support.
Search: Roku wins by a large margin. The Roku is that it gives detailed song information before you actually play it. With the touchpad / scroll wheel on the Sonos, I thought I was going to burn my thumbprint off before I reached Z.
Easy-of-Use: The Sonos wins by a moderate margin. The Sonos offers a near-perfect wireless remote.
Internet Radio: Tie.
Multi-room support: Sonos wins by a large margin. Walking from one area of the house to another while hearing/controlling the music/volume was even cooler that I thought it would be. The Sonos has a great WiFi remote that allows control of any and/or all rooms from anywhere in the house.
Cost: The Roku wins by a small margin. Roku offerers multiple models at lower price points. The advantage is slight because of the better hardware integration and larger feature set of the Sonos.
Improvements: Sonos really needs to improve their search feature and possibly add DRM support. Roku is lacking in the area of multi-room support, needs to consider offering their own desktop software instead of relying on third parties, and needs to consider a anywhere-in-the-house WiFi graphical remote. Both companies need to add support for ReplayGain volume compensation, to correct songs that are too loud or too quite.
Verdict: The Sonos stays and the Roku is being returned. DRM and multiple-server support didn’t turn out to be that big of an advantage for the Roku; multi-room listening and the WiFi graphical remote turned out to be a big advantage for the Sonos. Even though the score (by category) was 3 to 3, multi-room music is much nicer than I initially expected, making the Sonos the clear winner.