Sony HomeShare review: A wireless music system for more than just your iPod

sony-homeshare-system

Read on for an overview of the Sony HomeShare system, then check out our full reviews of Sony HomeShare components:

At CES 2011, Sony announced it was moving away from its Altus line of wireless speakers in favor of a suite of products centered around what it called HomeShare. In a rather surprising move, Sony’s HomeShare bucks the company’s trend of going the proprietary route in hopes that others will eventually toe its line. Instead, HomeShare is a non-proprietary, DLNA-based system that can access and wirelessly share most music file types stored on a networked PC or NAS drive.

While the technology is also coming available through select Sony Blu-Ray disc players, micro systems and TVs, HomeShare made its debut through five currently available network music products (and now a sixth, forthcoming speaker which was just recently announced at CEDIA 2011). You’ve got the NAC-SV10i iPod/iPhone dock, the NAS-SV20i iPod/iPhone speaker dock, the CMT-MX700Ni micro system, the SA-NS300 wireless network speaker and SA-NS400 wireless network speaker. Sony also recently introduced the RMN-U1 universal touch-screen remote control which, as it happens, integrates nicely with HomeShare to control any compatible devices in the home.

Though any of these devices can be used on their own, the real fun seems to be centered around integration. Perhaps that’s why Sony sent us a trio of HomeShare devices to evaluate together. But,to keep things simple, we decided to evaluate each of the components individually and publish separate reviews for the NAC-SV10i iPod/iPhone dock, SA-NS300 wireless network speaker and RMN-U1 universal touch-screen remote.

It comes down to this: Each of the products had their positive and not-so-positive points. Our biggest challenge was consistent network connectivity. Of the three devices we tested, the RMN-U1 was the most consistently easy to use. Unlike the network speaker and iPod/iPhone dock, it never seemed to have trouble communicating through our network (which was not occupied with any other tasks or accessed by any other machines during our tests, by the way). Also, the remote is definitely the ideal control interface for the HomeShare product family. The only real problem we see is that the RMN-U1’s $300 asking price makes attaining an easy to use wireless music system from Sony a pricier proposition. Of course, considering how much more the system can do than some similarly priced AirPlay speaker systems, maybe this product family is more competitively priced than we first thought.

Used individually, each of the three HomeShare devices we tested were able to provide some useful functions, albeit with some quirks here and there. Yet, it was when the three individuals were brought together as a team that a useful, comprehensive wireless system was born. We like most things modular, but in this case we’re going to say that the whole was definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Though individually rated in each review, we’d give the entire HomeShare system a respectable 8.0 rating.

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