My insufficiently geeky readers probably won’t get the 42 reference, so I’ll assume you read this reference before continuing. Of all the convergence I’ve seen that bridge gadgets with Web services, I think the implementation of Pandora’s free Internet radio service onto the Sonos music system is probably the best. The single “snag” in the entire system is that you actually need to (1) have a Pandora account, and (2) own a Sonos. If you don’t, I recommend correcting the situation immediately.
In a nutshell, Pandora works by building “radio stations” based on artists and/or tracks you like. If you pick Frank Sinatra, boom, you have a Frank Sinatra Radio Station. Add other artists, and create your Smooth Crooners Radio Station. If you don’t get it yet, well, go to Pandora and set up an account, it is free after all. The super delicious part of the story is how well they integrated with Sonos.
On your Sonos, you simply need to add your Pandora username/password, then you have access to virtually all Pandora features. Key to it is how easy it is to use on the Sonos, including bookmarking content and creating new stations. One of the softkey (programmable) buttons is labeled “ratings”, the other “Pandora”.
Click “ratings” to rapidly Like, Dislike, or Not hear a song for a month. Perfectly logical, works just like Pandora on the Web does. This feature is one of the key parts to how Pandora works – while you can’t specifically pick songs to play, the collaborative filtering system (recommendations) works extremely well.
The “pandora” button allows you to add the given song or artist to your current radio station, or build a new station based on the song/artist. Again, this implementation is exactly how it should work. Within minutes I created five different stations, all in different genres, with practically no effort. You can similarly bookmark content to retrieve later at pandora.com.
I’ve ripped my 800+ CD collection into MP3. We have access to tons of other streaming Internet content. I can say without hesitation that 90% of my Sonos listening will now be over Pandora (and my new house has 7 Sonos zones planned). Amazing job to both companies. BTW, Sonos also introduced an iPhone app, but since I’m not an iPhone guy I’ll let the pro’s talk about how great that is instead…