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Philips Streamium NP2900 - Philips Streamium NP2900
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.
With the NP2900 primarily designed with music playback in mind it's hardly surprising that format support is good. 320kbps MP3 and AAC files are supported, though WMA bit rates above 192kbps are not. Besting the AirStream10, the NP2900 will also play Ogg and FLAC files with nary a quibble and thanks to its colour screen will display album art, if available, as well as any JPEG file you care to point it at.
Setting up the NP2900 is a breeze. When first plugged in and powered on there's a (skippable) demo of the device's features after which you're asked to register the device, select a time zone, whether you want to connect to a network and if so what type - if you're connecting to Wi-Fi and your router supports WPS-PBC you'll be saved the hassle of having to enter any Wi-Fi password yourself. And that's it.
Once connected to a network you'll probably want to check whether any firmware updates are available before changing any other settings as the system reverts to its defaults after updating, which is slightly annoying. Also annoying is the click sound whenever you do anything on the NP2900, so you'll likely want to turn that off too. If, for some reason, you don't want the clock to update itself via the 'net you'll want to turn that default off too.
The other three settings to play with are fairly subjective in their appeal. The NP2900 has, what Philips likes to call, three sound enhancement modes (four if you include the equalizer) with a dedicated button on the remote for toggling between each. Dynamic Bass Boost (DBB) has the easiest result to describe, providing a stronger bias towards the low end. For the most part this doesn't really have any negative impact, although purists will probably want to leave it disabled.
LivingSound aims to deliver a wider, fuller soundstage that the relatively close placement of the NP2900's speakers might otherwise provide, facilitated by those angled rear speakers. The result is not entirely without compromise with the widened soundstage reducing the level of refinement. If you want to fill an entire room then it's a worthwhile trade-off and certainly works as advertised, but if you're able to sit in the LivingSound-less 'sweet spot' then you won't want to enable the effect.
FullSound purports to restore the detail lost in compressed music formats so you'll definitely want it turned off if you're listening to FLAC files. I'm not entirely sure that the 'restoration' is always beneficial, though, and there's nothing wrong with how MP3 or AAC files sound with FullSound turned off anyway, so it's perhaps best left disabled permanently.