Shootout: Three Wireless Multiroom Music Systems

What's wrong with this picture? Right this moment, you can whip out your cellphone and call Directory Assistance in Sri Lanka, halfway around the world. On the other hand, you need wires (probably poorly concealed under the carpet) to run audio from your home theater to your home office. Even worse, maybe you use a "sneakernet" to carry armfuls of CDs (careful, those jewel boxes shatter when they drop!) from room to room. Even your local Starbucks has a wireless network, but not your listening rooms. Really, does that make any sense?

Now imagine storing all your music on a disk drive, and accessing that data from anywhere in your home, without wires. That's what these systems from Philips, Sonos, and Yamaha are all about. With their wireless streaming capabilities, they make your music even more readily available than the phone number of the Domino's Pizza in Sri Lanka. Literally, within minutes of powering up - and in less time than it would take to run wires between two rooms - you'll be jamming to tunes all over the house. We auditioned all three systems to see how they differed, and here's what we found.

What We Think
Philips Sonos Yamaha
Its simplicity is a plus, though its small hard drive could be a drawback. An expandable and elegant solution if you've got a library of ripped music. Remarkably sophisticated and flexible, it's also the most expensive system of this trio.