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Philips NP1100 Streamium Network Music Player review

Ardjuna Seghers

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Streaming. For those in the know, it's nothing to do with gurgling brooks and forest streams, nor even with streamlining. Rather, it refers to the transfer of digital media over a network, whether that's wired or wireless. There are many devices that do this for video, but recently, dedicated music streamers have become ever more popular.

With music systems that incorporate wireless technology usually starting in the £400 range, what if you've already got a perfectly decent stereo system and just lack that wireless functionality? In that case, you'd be better off looking at something like the Logitech Squeezebox Duet Network Music System. However, since this little box comes in at the £260 line, it's not exactly the most affordable solution. Today we're looking at the Philips NP1100 Streamium Network Music Player, a device that essentially offers largely comparable functionality, but for less than half the price.

Inside the box you'll find the player, remote, RCA and power cables, and a quick start guide plus CD-ROM. At just over 140cm, the power lead is just a tad on the short side for a device you're meant to be able to plug in anywhere, though it does mean a minimum of cable clutter.

The front of the unit is gorgeously minimalistic. The 4in (10cm) LCD screen is framed by a very thick glossy black bezel, and this in turn is framed by a transparent plastic frame that extends around the unit's sides. The effect is similar to the styling on many of the company's other products, such as its Philips Cineos LCD TVs or HTS8140 Ambisound Home Cinema System, and is altogether rather attractive.

Its elegance is broken only by the 'Philips' logo in silver, the Streamium brand name and tiny Wi-Fi logo in white. The unit's sides and back are also silver. At the top resides the small power button, which switches the unit between standby and on.

Connectivity, meanwhile, is pretty good: at the back there are stereo phono jacks, a coaxial digital out, a 3.5mm headphone jack and sockets for Ethernet and power. Of course, this being a Streamium product, you also get 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi as well.

Despite being somewhat basic - lacking features like its own display or backlit buttons - the remote is quite accomplished and a pleasure to use; which is typical for Philips, who have a lot of experience in this field. Buttons are smooth, high quality soft-touch rubberised plastic, and shaped perfectly for precise control. Layout is logical and it's very easy to find the buttons you want without even looking. Another bonus is that the device uses AAA batteries, meaning you can use rechargeables - cheaper for you and so much better for the environment.

Yet, not everything is as accomplished. It would have been nice to have some minimal adjustment controls like volume on the unit itself rather than only the remote, for if you ever temporarily mislay or lose it. A bit of tilt adjustment would also have been appreciated on the NP1100 Streamium, especially considering the screen's odd colour shift in relation to viewing angles. You see, when viewed from the front, it consists of white pixels on a blue background, but at certain angles this might change to white on purple, or even black on light blue. This is probably purposeful on Philips' part, since it does help make the display legible from most angles, but it's not effective 100 per cent of the time.

Getting onto how the device performs, it pretty much does what it says on the box. After a firmware update and a restart, the system plays a short intro which tells you about the NP1100's features, after which you'll need to enter region, date and time. Annoyingly, I needed to re-apply my wireless settings after the reset, including typing the lengthy password all over again using the mobile-phone like pad on the remote - something you won't want to do too often!

russelk

September 18, 2008, 6:02 am

What about sound quality??? How can you write a review about an audio product without talking about its sound quality? How does the sound compare to its rivals from Logitech, Noxon, etc? I have to say, standards have been dropping at Trusted Reviews. This is the second review I've read in the last month that is sub-standard and simply does not give the reader enough information to make an informed buying decision. Very disappointing.

emat

September 18, 2008, 9:49 am

Pros:


Installation done in less than 2minutes.


A huge list of radio available around the world,


A good quality with no hiccup,


Able to listen my PC library on my HiFi.


Very cheap compare to others


A very readable display





Cons:


A black and white display





Detailled review :


The huge advantage of this product is the simplicity !!!! So simple to set-up.





I can now listen (without my PC) on my HiFi system all radio with a good sound quality without any reception issue.





I can also listen all my music library located on my PC very easily.





On top of that, quality is very good and I don't have any hiccup during playback.

Jon Williamson

September 18, 2008, 11:30 am

This lloks interesting - but what I need is something that will play the music files (WMA) stored on my NAS - without my PC on. The Squeezebox does not support this - does this player?





JonWill

emat

September 18, 2008, 12:28 pm

Hi Jonwill,





With mine, I can. You just need to check that your NAS is UpNp/DLNA compliants (NP1100 is \).

Andy Vandervell

September 18, 2008, 3:16 pm

Yes, that's right, provided said NAS box is UPnP compliant it'll work fine. Are you sure the Squeezebox doesn't support this, though? Could have sworn it did...

TechVegan

September 18, 2008, 3:39 pm

@ russelk: sorry if the review was dissapointing to you. Truth is that sound quality will depend more on the speakers/headphones and quality of the digital music you use than the NP1100's analogue outputs. These days it's rare to find a device at this price point that uses a bad quality DAC, and the NP1100 reflects this by out-putting great sound with a decent stereo system. With digital out (co-ax), the preferred connection, this obviously becomes a non-issue, and sound quality will depend purely on the aforementioned two considerations.





@emat: thanks for the helpful contribution! - just one point, the display is two-tone rather than B&W :D



Epic

September 18, 2008, 3:39 pm

I don't believe the Squeezebox devices supports UPnP directly - they need the SqueezeCenter software which can be installed on some NASes (as well as PCs, MACs etc).





Re. the Streamium's Internet Radio functionality - what back-end service(s) is it tied to and does it support Real Audio BBC streams?





Given that it doesn't support lossless formats I guess Philips are aiming for mass-market appeal here whereas Squeezebox is pitched (and priced) at the audiophile market and offers a high quality DAC and built-in lossless support (FLAC etc).





I second the comment about there being no mention of audio quality - 6/10 must try harder.

Jon Williamson

September 18, 2008, 3:42 pm

As i understand it you need to have Slimserver running somewhere - anonly a few NAS devices allow this. Not mine!

russelk

September 18, 2008, 10:20 pm

As a Squeezebox 3 owner I can confirm that it's not UPnP compliant. You must use the SqueezeCenter server software. I don't use WMA but I was under the impression that the Squeezebox supports WMA natively without needing to transcode it. I've just had a quick look at the server interface and it shows this option.





Ardjuna, sorry to keep hankering on about this, but it's something I feel strongly about. In a review of an audio product I don't think it's acceptable to merely state that it's audio output quality depends on the rest of the components in the playback chain. As a reviewer I think it's your job to compare the output of this device to that of competing products, using the same source files, amplification, speakers, etc. Personally I don't believe that all media streamers sound the same, the analog output stage will definitely vary in quality from one model to the next. That's why we look to reviewers to clarify this for us. Your review was focussed entirely on it's ergonomics and usability. That may be more important for some readers, but others may be more interested in it's audio quality. As an example, I'm considering the purchase of a second Squeezebox for my kitchen. Your review did not convey how this device sounds in comparision to it's competitors. If you feel that this device sounds as good as the Squeezebox then you should have mentioned this in the body of the review. I can only speak for myself, but for me the review was therefore lacking and did not enable me to make an informed decision.

Martin Daler

September 19, 2008, 12:55 am

I tend to agree with russelk - I feel I could probably glean as much from reading the product packaging.


As to russelk's questions about sound quality, I think his question shows up the paucity of the review - I'm guessing that this device isn't actually capable of making a sound of any quality at all, but this isn't clarified in the review.


Does it do "listen again" (BBC) or podcasts on internet radio? I'm willing to bet those are the most used features on an internet radio, not the ability to listen to some obscure Albanian radio station among 6000 or so others, but we learn nothing here.


Sorry to come down so hard, but this review isn't why I read TR.

TechVegan

September 19, 2008, 1:56 pm

@russelk & @Martin Daler: no worries, we always appreciate honest comments and constructive criticism. Sorry about not mentioning the analogue sound quality in the review, reasons are in my previous comment - and as I said there, analogue quality is rather good. Still, I'll include this in future reviews.


As to comparing it's audio with competing products like the Squeezebox in realtime, we did not simply because we don't have any in the office.


Lastly, podcasts will need to be downloaded to listen to them, and instead of tuning into "some obscure Albanian radio station", why not check out the World Music Stations, or US Top 100 Hits? :)

southy007

September 21, 2008, 12:02 am

hi,





ive been looking to buy something to enable me to listen to internet radio for a while, one quetion i havent picked up on this - does it use the reciva portal or something entirely different?





cheers

zugrenner

January 31, 2009, 2:23 pm

The Noxon is built around exactly the same design and components as the Streamium unit (BridgeCo), so the only differences may be the UI and the DAC implementaton. Sound quality should be identical for a given firmware. Other units based on this solution are listed here





http://www.bridgeco.com/index....





The backend service is based in the USA - vTuner I think.





BridgeCo has never made money, and is said to be about to run out cash. They are closing the main development centre in Switzerland and moving to the USA.

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