The timing seems a little crazy, but Sonos believes there will be strong demand for a new controller that refreshes its pricey but elegant wireless digital music system.
Tonight the company’s releasing the CR200, a $349 touchscreen remote control that’s the new heart of its system for streaming music to multiple rooms in a house.
The new remote will be offered alone or in bundles, such as the standard $1,000 package that includes two receiver units and the remote.
Sonos is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., but drew heavily from Seattle, including veterans of RealNetworks and a group of former Microsoft Sharepoint developers leading its software program.
On the design side, the company has taken inspiration from Apple. Its previous controller featured a scroll wheel, helping the company position its system as a sort of iPod for the home with controls familiar to digital music enthusiasts.
The CR200 takes its cue from the iPhone and iPod Touch, with a 3.5-inch color capacitative touch screen.
Sonos used the same underlying software for the CR200 and the free iPhone/Touch controller application it released last October.
But the CR200 has more heft than the Apple gadgets. It’s wrapped in an anodized aluminum case; includes hard buttons for volume and mute; and ships with a charging dock. The latter is a sort of price cut – the previous dock was a $40 option.
The controller is compatible with previous Sonos systems. It’s going to replace the current CR100, which is still available but being phased out by the company.
I’ll write more about the new controller after I’ve spent some time with it.