Sonos Stays on Top with Its Play:3 Music System; Seagate GoFlex Turbo Speeds Up Portable Data Transfer

Shaw reviews Sonos' Play:3 wireless music system; Seagate's GoFlexTurbo portable hard drive.

The scoop: Play:3 wireless music system, by Sonos, about $300.

What is it? An upgrade to its S5 system, the Play:3 from Sonos is an all-in-one wireless music system with speakers that can be easily connected to a home network (either connected directly via Ethernet to a router, or wirelessly with the purchase of a $49 bridge). Once connected, the Play:3 will stream music stored on a PC, Mac or network-attached storage device, or it can access several different music services or Internet radio stations (more than 100,000, according to Sonos).

BACKGROUND: Sonos ZonePlayer S5

The wireless mesh nature of the Sonos system (each unit becomes a node in the proprietary Sonos wireless network) also means you can create a multi-room system -- the same song can be played simultaneously in different rooms of your house, or you can stream different songs to the other rooms. The more you add to the system, the cooler it becomes. Songs and stations can be controlled with an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android smartphones (via free app download).

Why it's cool: The entire unit is smaller than the previous version (the S5), so it can fit in tighter spots than ever before. In addition, you can rotate the Play:3 vertically to place on a bookshelf (the unit knows what position it's in), or you can put two units within a room and assign each one as a left or right speaker. The lower price (it's about $100 less than before) means that more people can experience the Sonos universe without breaking the bank. As an added bonus, the Ethernet port on the back of the Play:3 can be used to connect a PC/notebook, letting you piggyback the Sonos wireless mesh in case you have a dead spot in your regular 802.11 network.

Some caveats: Some music services require additional fees/subscriptions in order to play through the Sonos (Spotify, in particular, required a premium account).

Grade: 5 stars (out of five)

The scoop: GoFlex Turbo, by Seagate, about $120 (for 500GB; 750GB costs $140).

What is it? The GoFlex Turbo portable hard drive features a 7200 rpm drive, USB 3.0 interface and a free data recovery attempt from SafetyNet should users lose their data. The drive can handle transfer speeds up to 40% faster than its USB 2.0, 5400 rpm counterparts, and comes with the same GoFlex design and cables as its other products in the GoFlex line. This means users can swap cables for different interfaces (eSATA, FireWire, etc.) without needing to purchase a different drive. The unit also lets users swap files between PC and Mac systems without a need for reformatting (although some Mac applications may require reformatting).

Why it's cool: The Turbo lives up to its names. It is slightly faster than previous USB 3.0 drives I've tested - in my tests, I got a blazing 101.6 MBps of read speeds, and between 53MBps and 58MBps of write speeds. This was up from the approximately 90MBps speeds of tests, which also used USB 3.0 cables but were 5400 rpm drives.

The SafetyNet data recovery service is free for two years, and will cover one recovery attempt on the drive, and specialists will let you know whether a remote or in-lab service is the best way to get back data if a mishap occurs, Seagate says. It's a nice added bonus for users worried about losing any data on the drive.

Grade: 4.5 stars

Shaw can be reached at kshaw@nww.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawkeith

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Sonos Stays on Top with Its Play:3 Music System; Seagate GoFlex Turbo Speeds Up Portable Data Transfer" was originally published by Network World.

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