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Philips Streamium NP2900
Philips is no stranger to network-connected media streaming. It's Streamium range of such products stretches from the likes of the streamium MCi500H Hi-Fi system to the Streamium NP1100, which takes care of the streaming part, but relies on a separate set of speakers to be of any use. The Streamium NP2900 sits in the middle of the line-up. With its built-in speakers it's a capable stand-alone device, but it's hardly a replacement for a full Hi-Fi system.
The number of these secondary media streaming, Internet radio-accessing systems is growing so Philips has a fair amount of competition at the moment, most obviously from the Monitor Audio AirStream10 and Logitech Squeezebox Boom. Like both of those systems, the NP2900 will connect to Internet radio stations, pull multimedia off any network storage device or PC that supports uPnP (either over Ethernet or Wi-Fi) and can be used as a set of speakers for any device you want to connect. Unlike the AirStream10 the NP2900 doesn't double as an FM or DAB radio, but with thousands of 'net-based stations at your disposal, it's not a serious omission.
The NP2900 certainly makes a good first impression. While its design is fairly conventional compared to the AirStream10, it is still attractive and, of course, puts its 4in, 320 x 240 pixel colour screen centre stage. The stand can be unscrewed and replaced with a wall mounting alternative if you prefer.
The NP2900 has four speakers, two pointing forwards at the front, where you'd normally expect them to be with another two at a 45 degree angle at opposite ends on the device's rear. While this does mean you'll need to place the NP2900 in front of a wall to get the best out of them, the improved soundstage Philips claims from doing so should be more than sufficient compensation.
Also at the rear you'll find all of the NP2900's inputs. These comprise an Ethernet port, two phono inputs (a single 3.5mm input would have been more practical to my mind) and a power jack. A 3.5mm headphone output isn't exactly noteworthy, but a digital coaxial connector is as it makes it possible to connect the NP2900 to a more comprehensive external sound system if the inbuilt speakers aren't good enough for you. Above these connectors is an articulated Wi-Fi antenna, the external placement of which might arguably help reception, although no device with an internal one has ever had problems in my experience.
Controls on the NP2900 itself are limited to a standby, mute and volume up and down buttons. The bundled remote, though, is thoroughly comprehensive with dedicated buttons for switching between sources, entering the settings menu and returning to the 'now playing' screen to name but a few. There's also a set of mobile phone-style alphanumeric keys for searching for specific tracks or Internet radio stations and entering Wi-Fi passwords.