Sony's GIGA JUKE hard drive music players launched last year and if you didn't mind the £500 price tag then it made a pretty decent PC-less media store. Now the second iteration is here to up the game.
The new range comprises two systems. The former of these, the NAS-SC55PKE (made up itself of the NAS-S55HDE base station and a single NAS-C5E receiver) packs an 80GB hard-drive for storing tracks, a 4.3in colour display and offers wireless media streaming while the latter, the NAS-E35HD, has a smaller hard-drive, an LCD display and is a stand alone solution.
Both have a CD drive that will rip tracks and tag them using the Gracenote database as well as Bluetooth A2DP playback, allowing a mobile phone to stream music to the device. The NAS-S55HD goes further, adding the ability to stream to up to five separate NAS-C5E receivers. If you happen to have a selection of base stations, a function called party mode allows you to set them all to sync with each other, playing the same track or different tracks in different locations around the house/flat.
The NAS-S55HDE is DLNA compliant, so it will connect to any compatible transmitter or receiver, such as a PC and not just Sony's own, albeit recommended, devices. Further helping to move away from Sony's reputation as king of the proprietary, the systems bring support for a much wider range of codecs than their predecessors, specifically ATRAC, MP3, Linear PCM and WMA.
Also on the bill are DAB tuners and the GIGA JUKE will allow scheduled recordings to the hard drive, which could prove useful. Availability and pricing information is currently not given, but based on the previous generation the £400 plus mark doesn't seem unreasonable.