The ZonePlayer S5 was one of the award-winning gadgets featured in my recent CES coverage, and though it took a while to get here, the Sonos guys finally sent me one to evaluate. I’ll be reviewing the S5 in a multi-part series starting with this unboxing post (video embedded after the break), and continuing over the next few weeks as I set it up and use it. The player is a streaming audio system that brings music wirelessly (or via wired connection) into any room of your house. It can stream from your iTunes library or a bevy of internet services, and be centrally managed from your iPhone or touch. I have a how-to coming out in our next issue on setting up your own streaming music at home, and this is one easy way to do it…
The S5 came in a larger box (not shown), because Sonos also threw in one of the ZoneBridge devices, which is essentially a network bridge so that you can wirelessly stream music to the ZonePlayer. I haven’t fully read up on using both the S5 and the ZB under different configurations, but the quick start indicates that you either connect the ZonePlayer to a wired connection (via RJ-45 cable), or you need a ZB (or another wired S5) connected via etherhose cable to stream wirelessly to the S5. I will post all the config specifics once I begin setting it up this week…ZB shot below
The S5 is a bit heavy, and somewhat bulky for something that functions as a simple wireless stereo system. The reason for that is the superb electronics and speaker system that is integrated into the unit. The device is actually a small computer itself--attached to a high-end speaker array in the front. 5 total speakers powered by 5 dedicated digital amps with 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range, and 1 sub-woofer to push out crystal-clear impressive sound (I had a pretty convincing demo at CES). The outside of the S5 is minimalist but attractive.
The case is an egg-shell white, heavy high-grade plastic that feels slightly textured. The top of the unit includes a small volume control and mute button, and the back includes 2 Ethernet ports and a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks (line-in, headphone). There are 2 oblong holes in the back near the top called an “acoustic port”, which also doubles as a handle to carry the unit from room-to-room. Other than that, there are no other buttons or openings to deal with. Included with the unit are power, network and 3.5mm audio cables.
To see the actual unboxing in action (and to hear my incessant droning), you can check out the video below. By next weekend, I should have an updated post on configuration options and another demo on actually connecting it to the network, so stay-tuned.