Sonos might have set the bar for digital music systems for the home, but that doesn’t stop others from trying, and knocking it off its perch.
The latest is San Francisco-based Olive Inc, which has just launched Symphony, a wireless music hub powered by IBM PowerPC. It has 2.5″ 80GB hard-drive, which holds up to 20,000 songs. The integrated CD database identifies, tags and archives the CD automatically. The device had a panasonic CD burner, and has a built in 802.11g access point to connect to the Internet and share the music wirelessly. The external hard drives can be connected to the device using the USB connectors. In all other aspects its pretty much like Sonos. It even has its own wireless add-on called Sonata. This is actually quite clever – instead of requiring another special box, you can simply plug the speakers/stereo/headphone right into (Sonata) and listen to music.
You can stream the music off this hub anywhere in the house, and play it in upto five rooms. I guess that is the difference between this product and Sonos, which allows you to connect upto 32 rooms. The other difference is price: Symphony is cheaper for now, but who knows this might prompt folks from Sonos to cut their price as well, and add a hard drive to their box. I like the way it looks, but I also love the way Sonos looks. The company plans to sell the device directly from its website for $899. The best part – it works on OS-X only, but still supports all music formats including Ogg and WMA (except Apple’s own format).