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Sonos and Real Networks has joined a long list of US companies that want Australians to buy their products but won’t give Australians access to the same content that they deliver for US nationals. This is despite the fact that the music from Real Networks is rented not sold.

In a move designed to stimulate sales Sonos has updated its service and released new 2.0 system software for the Sonos wireless player that allows audio from a new download service to be streamed around the house. To make this possible  Sonos have teamed up with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody web service in the USA but not Australia to provide a direct link to millions of songs from all genres and thousands of radio stations without the need of an installed application or computer.

Sonos allows users to access this service by means of their wireless controller -Simply plug and play the controller in any of up to 22 rooms in your home or office, and you get tunes with the aid of a 3.5-inch colour LCD screen, scroll wheel, and a button. Choose the same music for each room, or have blues in the bedroom and classical in the bathroom. You can even download music that has been taking up all that valuable space on your PC.

For US owners the controller permits one to pick a favourite artist and Rhapsody can build a commercial-free radio station that will include other artists from the same music genre. Users can elect from their top 100 song charts or be their own disc jockey. The 2.0 upgrade also allows users o update daily with audible content or pod casts or choose a randomised shuffle mode. Also featured are improved multinational Internet radio and alarm functionality, as well as French, Italian, and Spanish language support.

The Australian distributor of the Sonos wireless player has claimed that Sonos are not to blame for Australians not being able to get access to a new Real Networks music service that is bundled with the Sonos player in Australia.

Niv Novak of Playback Systems claims that “Sonos are not the one who is denying Australians access to the Real Networks music content. We are selling a player and in the US Sonos customers are able to access a music content service on the Real Network for US$10.00 a month when they boot their system up. Sonos are not blocking any one from accessing this service other than the content provider” he said.

 “We cannot in Australia influence the US. Sonos in Australia is hurt by the story and the fact that Australians cannot access the service is beyond our control as the distributor of the product. We would actually like all Australians to get this service” he added.

 Smarthouse Magazine has also discovered that if Australians buying the Sonos player want to access the 30day trial for free all one has to do is set your Country as the USA not Australia.

The Sonos system is easy to install and is one of those rare high-end home entertainment products that anybody can set up. Plug it in, follow simple instructions and music players throughout the house link together wirelessly and pull music from the PC. Its only problem, as I pointed out when it launched, is that it can’t play the music that I’m constantly buying from Apple’s iTunes Store. With the recent upgrade the Sonos system has became even simpler, and pretty much solved that music problem in the process.

In the US Sonos 2.0 comes bundled with a 30-day trial of Rhapsody Music Service from RealNetworks. Although the Sonos system was compatible with Rhapsody before, via a PC, the new software lets you run Rhapsody Unlimited without a PC.  In recent testing it was discovered that the Sonos system no longer needs a PC at all. One can pick up the Sonos remote, scroll and click, iPod style, through Rhapsody’s bottomless trove of music, playing whatever you want instantly. Sifting through the list of artists can be daunting, but anybody with a close-to-full 60GB iPod would understand that. You can add albums to a favourites section for quick access, and view the personal Rhapsody Library by artist or genre, and even build your own play lists.

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