To enjoy your locally hosted tunes you need to keep your PC switched on - not a problem for me because my system goes on when I wake up and only gets switched off come bed time if I remember. Internet radio and services like Spotify can be streamed without a PC, and as long as your Nas box supports the SMB/CIFS networking protocol you can play music files held on remote storage.
The main menu of Sonos' Controller app for Android (left) and what it's playing (right)
The Play:3 itself is a solid and well made, if rather anonymous box that’s small enough to be easily positioned in a room without shouting, "Look At Me!" like the B&W Zeppelin and its ilk. The unit has rubber feet on the bottom and on the left side so you can stand it either way up as available space dictates.
Pick a song from your library (left) then stream it to a stereo set-up (right)
Controls and inputs are limited to a power jack, Ethernet port and volume/mute buttons. There’s no auxiliary input which wasn’t unexpected given Sonos’ belief in the primacy of the network but the absence of a headphones socket is annoying.
Sonos doesn’t bundle a remote because you're supposed to use your iPhone, iPad or Android handset after installing the free Sonos app. It's an idea that’s hard to argue with when smartphones are so ubiquitous and Sonos’ own remote costs a terrifying £279.
Stream songs from internet radio stations (left) and other online music sources (right)
Once installed on my Desire HD, the Android Controller app worked a treat and offered both ID3-tag and folder views of my library. If you are without a smartphone, the system can be controlled directly from your computer's desktop.
Next page: Multi-room ready
How about a REAL budget network audio player?
Ever since Logitech discontinued the Squeezebox Classic (and Roku its SoundBridge), I feel there has been a definite "hole in the market" when it comes to a sub-£150 multi-format network audio player.
I stress the word "audio" here - there are tons of network media players in the £50-£150 range, but they're really intended for plugging into your TV. I would be interested in a network *audio* player, which can hook up to both our home LAN (wired or wireless) and my hifi amplifier/speakers, so I can stream tracks from our Synology NAS box and play them via a decent sound system.
If you know of such a box under £150 (and pref. under £100), I'd be very grateful to hear about it. Failing that, perhaps it's off to eBay to look for an old Squeezebox Classic, or a USB DAC to turn our Synology into a network audio player...
Mama's got Squeezebox
With Slim Devices (let's not say the L. word) I think the defunct Boom (love mine) and the Radio http://www.amazon.co.uk/Logitech-Squeezebox-Radio-Internet-streaming/dp/B002N2YZYU represent much better value for money, without any propriety nonsense - you get wireless out of the box no £40 addon.
Also, the latest versions of SqueezeNetwork server software allows you to split the stereo in a similar way as the Sonos, so it's cheaper to have have two SB Radios to act as a stereo pair and still have £60 left for pies and chips.
I use a squeezebox touch, a bit over the £150, but superb. I run the server on my synology NAS, visit their website to download it.