First, I want to emphasize that I am not
trying to get you to buy a Sonos system. I do think it's great, but I'm not saying it's the best value for everyone, nor am I all that familiar with the current Squeezebox. Here are a couple of links I found on the Sonos forum FYI - one pro
and one con
- from people who had used both the Squeezebox and Sonos (obviously I would expect a bias towards Sonos in their own forum).
I would say generally that Squeezebox would probably be a good fit for those who would prefer saving a few bucks and don't mind that it might mean a slightly more techy, computer-centric user interface. That describes lots of guys like us, who kind of enjoy tinkering a bit with technology, especially if we can save a few bucks in the process.
Sonos would be a better fit for those who really want the technology to be invisible - just let me play music quickly and easily - AND who are willing to pay a bit of a premium to achieve that convenience. An often overlooked aspects of this comparison IMO is this: Multi-room synchronized listening.
Until we had the ability to quickly and easily play music in multiple rooms all over the house I had no idea how nice it was, especially for a family. I was used to the "the stereo is in this room, and that's where we go to listen to music" mode. Want to listen in another room - say the kitchen? Better crank up the volume so you can hear it! Sonos lets you completely break out of that entire framework, because it's so easy to play music in many rooms that people DO just that. A lot. The music adapts to us and how we live, instead of holding us hostage in one particular room - or perhaps two, if you have two systems in the house. This is perfect for a family; overkill perhaps for an individual.
But it is really
neat when you find you can easily have the various rooms perfectly synched, so that as you move from room to room you continue to listen to your one song - without a glitch and having to crank up the volume in any given room. And there is no lag at all - it is perfectly
in synch. Amazing, especially for parties.
OR you can choose to play different stuff simultaneously in different rooms - the more typical day-to-day use. Although we have tons of digital music we own, I admit we usually just stream music from online sources like Pandora (there are multiple other choices, some free like Pandora or Napster or radio, or a number of others which require a premium subscription). There is so much music that can be easily streamed, that I seldom bother playing from my own library of music: daughter #1 streaming some crappy rap song from our digital library in the family room, while my wife listens to a classic rock station in the kitchen, and daughter #2 is in the living room listening to God knows what, while I listen to something GOOD in the HT streaming through my good system there when I should be working on my HT but am instead having a beer, while my son plays video games in his room, ignoring everyone and everything (which admittedly, does not require any helpf from Sonos, but that's another story for another time)!
And since listening wherever we all are involves all of a few button pushes and a couple of seconds, we listen all the time
. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say we have music playing in at least one room most of the day. It changes the way we listen to music. Now if it would only change the way my kids act. But I digress.
If you do NOT intend to use it in multiple rooms - now or eventually - you would be paying for a key benefit that you will not use, and who wants to pay for something that they don't use? Sonos is expressly INTENDED to be used in multiple rooms! If you just want to stream from your computer to your stereo across the room, you don't need Sonos.
In short (or shortER) it is a premium priced product that is appreciated by those who value convenience, ease of use, and multi-room listening over saving a few bucks.
The WAF is off the charts - she just rolled her eyes with the usual :what have you bought this time?!" look when I opened "her present" to me a couple Christmases ago, but it quickly became perhaps the only "technology toy" I ever bought that has ended up being used more
by my wife and kids than by me (someone has to go to work once in a while to pay for this stuff!) Hard to put a price tag on that, but make no mistake about it - there is
a price tag!
So it becomes a matter of whether you think the benefits of easy, multi-room use is worth the premium price involved. For some it is, for others, it isn't. I just took the time on this Sonos option explanation because you started by saying how important easy & user friendly was to you. The real question will come down to: is that benefit worth the extra cost for you guys? Only you can decide that for your family.
Oh, and if you do decide to go the Sonos route, I can certainly help cut through the smoke and mirrors of deciding exactly what equipment you might need in your specific set up. Just don't expect me to finish my build any time soon! Thus endeth the 14th chapter of the Book of Hanes.