Daily Archives: December 2, 2009

That didn’t take long. It was just in mid-September that Facebook said it had reached 300m users (and was cashflow positive, to boot).

Now comes news that the social networking behemoth has added another 50m users just in time for the holidays. With 350m users, Facebook is now firmly entrenched as the fourth-largest property on the web (after Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, respectively).

Having achieved this massive scale, Facebook is contending with a new host of challenges. Read more

Music achieved higher fidelity, greater portability and came packaged in cooler designs in 2009.

Olive stepped sound quality up a notch with its Opus Number 4 and 4HD server, streaming 24-bit files.  Redesigned Walkmans from Sony and Zunes from Microsoft featured better sound, screens and interfaces. Sonos made whole-house audio more affordable with its S5 and there were some extraordinary iPod docks launched, such as the B&W Zeppelin (pictured).

In our second category of essential gadgets for 2009, Paul Taylor’s summary of the best digital music systems is after the jump (dollars and hearts represent value for money and desirability, out of five). We’re also republishing our reviews from earlier this year of the Sonos S5, Olive Opus and X Series Walkman. Read more

The DRM music struggle has been largely won for consumers – even Apple now lets you download and move your music around freely, compared to its former restrictions.

So, onto the next battle. The MP3 is no longer our friend, fellow music lovers, we must fight for a better quality listen.

(This review was originally published on July 22 2009) Read more

Sony lost the portable media player battle to Apple and the iPod some time ago, but its latest Walkman, launched in the US on Wednesday, does suggest the Japanese company can still occupy a significant niche.

The X-Series Walkman does not try to match the App-tastic iPhone and iPod touch, apart from one significant US-only application, but instead attacks the audio and video Achilles’ heel of those devices.

(This review was originally published on May 14 2009) Read more

Sonos, maker of wireless multi-room music systems that most people can’t afford,  now has a one-room option that may seem a bargain to iPhone and iPod touch users.

The Zoneplayer S5, available worldwide from today, costs $400 in the US and can be controlled by a free app available for the Apple devices.

(** This review was originally published on November 10 2009) Read more