Just like last year, Philips held a huge press conference on the pre-CES press day, and just like last year, Philips was pushing its “Connected Planet” concept. Philips believes that all consumer electronics devices should be connected and be able to make use of online and local services – I can’t say that I disagree with that vision, but implementing it is much harder than wishing for it.

Taking centre stage in the line-up of new products was the WACS700 Wireless Music Centre. This is Philips’ attempt to create a digital music library that’s accessible from every room in your house.

The WACS700 consists of a base station which houses a CD player and a 40GB hard drive. You simply insert a CD and let the WACS700 convert it to MP3 files and store them on the hard disk. You can attach up to five satellite systems to the WACS700 and stream the music wirelessly to them via the integrated 802.11g adapter.

Philips gave a demonstration of how you can have your music follow you around your house. You can use a single remote control to tell the base unit that you’re moving to another room, then tell the satellite unit to resume play when you reach that room.

I asked Philips if there was a way to have the base unit and all the satellite units playing simultaneously, and was told that the “party mode” was designed for this purpose. Unfortunately no one could tell me if there would be a synchronisation problem between the base unit and the satellites due to the transmission delay.

The design of the WACS700 is very stylish, but it’s spoiled somewhat by the big WiFi aerial sticking out of the top of both the base station and the satellite units.


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