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Fascinating though the back of the Music Server is, it's about time we get to the business end of things. You'll immediately notice there are a few connections here, with headphone and line-in 3.5mm jacks and another USB port snugly tucked behind a sliding door at the top. More eye-catching, though, is the 4.3in tilt-able colour display.
That it's tilt-able is rather useful - it certainly helps when you're further away and using the remote. Yet, Sony has clearly missed a trick here because, unlike Sonos, Logitech and even Philips, the remote for the Giga Juke music server doesn't feature any kind of display. So, though the tilt-able screen certainly helps, it isn't anywhere near as intuitive as a screen on the remote would be and from a few metres or so you'll be missing such a feature, since the display quickly becomes difficult to read - its viewing angles aren't all that impressive, either.
This is where that composite output comes in handy, because it allows you to output the display to a secondary screen - most likely a TV. This goes some way to relieving the lack of a screen on the remote and would be useful during a party, but switching inputs on the TV is hardly the most practical solution imaginable for everyday use.
Indeed, notwithstanding the lack of a screen, the Music Server remote is underwhelming in other respects as well. First, it just looks and feels unutterably cheap. Were this a £50 DVD player one might excuse this, but when you're paying over £500 for a relatively high-end piece of hi-fi equipment one expects a lot more. Secondly, just as it looks like something belonging to a £50 DVD player, the layout seems just as hopeless. Where a little space and order is needed you're greeted with a mish-mash of function buttons with little coherence or focal point. In time you'll doubtless get used to it, but it makes using an already complicated device that much harder.
Happily, a lot more thought has gone into the design of the Music Server. Aesthetically it certainly looks the part. There's a big and friendly volume knob and the button layout on the base unit, unlike the remote, is intelligent and intuitive. Just above the disc drive tray is a rather funky looking blue glow and the tray itself is discreetly integrated into the front. There's also an incision running across the middle that, deliberately or otherwise, gives the impression of a separates system. It may seem like cheap trick, but visually it works rather well.
Overall it's a very attractive but also understated design and though not as eye-catching as the previously mentioned Philips Streamium WACS7500, the base unit has its own sense of class and style and won't look out of place in your living room.
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