The system comes with built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and is DLNA certified, linking up with UPnP clients and servers, like PCs and Macs automatically. The MCI8080 will stream music and photos, with a list of supported formats that includes MP3, WMA, AAC (non-DRM), eAAC , FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis and JPEG. You can view photos while playing music.
There’s a range of other music streaming options, including built-in internet radio access, with a search tool, presets and favourite stations, as well as access to Spotify and Napster, which is a real coup as it puts millions of tracks at your disposal without a PC in sight.
Another network-linked feature is the ability to control the system using an iPhone, iPod Touch or Android Smartphone. Just download the Philips MyRemote app and you can control this system and any other networked Philips devices.
This brings us neatly to the system’s Multiroom capabilities. You can share a song playing on this unit (from the connected HDD) with other Philips network streamers ((like the ones pictured above) in other rooms around the house simply by hitting the Multiroom Music icon on the touch screen as the track is playing.
In the box is a 160GB external hard-disk drive (above), which boasts a robust metal casing and comes with a cradle for standing it upright.
On the sound quality front, the system features 2 x 50W from its Class D digital amplifier, and is equipped with FullSound to boost the depth of music playback. The speakers use a two-way design, with separate 1in tweeters and 5.25in mid/bass drivers achieving a frequency response of 75Hz-20kHz.
Fundamentally the MCI8080 is easy to use, thanks to the intuitive layout of the touch screen LCD and the considerate button layout on the supplied remote. The icon-driven LCD display looks wonderful, and the built-in pressure sensors respond quickly and consistently.
Also impressive is the way it finds content quickly, moving from one menu to the next without you having to wait for ages while each screen is populated with content. There’s a handy search tool to help you find the track you want quickly, and lists of content are clear thanks to the large text, which scrolls to show you the entire title.
We’re also hugely impressed by the Spotify feature. There’s a no-fuss feel to the menu system, which allowed us to start streaming tracks within seconds. The initial screen offers a choice of What’s New, Top Lists, Playlist and Search. While playing music, the screen displays album art, title, track and album info. It’s really slick and enjoyable to use.
Within the interface is a settings menu that allows you to tweak the levels of bass, treble and balance of the sound, as well as turn FullSound on and off. This menu is displayed on screen when accessed in Disc mode. The Network settings menu makes it incredibly easy to hook up to a wired or wireless network. It looks for access points automatically and allows you to enter an encryption password using the alphanumeric keys on the remote, or the touch screen keyboard.
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But it wasn’t all plain sailing. We had trouble streaming certain internet radio stations and the system crashed a few times during our tests, usually while trying to stream music over our network. But these glitches stopped happening after a while and we’re hoping they’re peculiar to our review sample.