The MCi500H really comes into its own when you take advantage of its network connections. There’s an Ethernet port round the back and built-in wireless, the aerial for which also pokes out of the back. The wireless supports all the common encryption types so you shouldn’t have too much trouble connecting to your home network, especially as the numeric keypad on the remote makes entering passwords as quick as typing a text on a mobile phone.
Once connected you can use the MCi500H as a music server for other products in the Streamium line, the theory being you have this larger system in your living room, and have one of the smaller all-in-one units in your bedroom. The setup of this is also incredibly easy and there are neat features like the ‘Music Follows Me’ function that lets you pause the music you were listening to in one room and continue it in another, just by touching one button.
As well as this, you can tune into Internet radio, and connect to UPnP network servers – i.e. music shared from your laptop or PC via Windows Media Player. Moreover, by installing a small bundled application on your PC you can copy your music collection across to the MCi500H, cutting out the need to rip all your music again. Unfortunately, file format support is limited to just mp3, WMA, and AAC, with no DRM support – the obvious omission here being any kind of lossless format. At least album artwork is supported.
It’s this latter feature that is probably the only reason we can see for Philips choosing a full colour 3in LCD screen as opposed to a simpler, classier, and non-viewing angle affected display technology like OLED or VFD. Not that the screen is bad, indeed it’s rather good with text being sharp, colours vivid, and viewing angles being respectable . There’s just something about all but the best LCD displays (possibly the way they’re so obviously inset and the slight backlight bleed) that rather spoils the sleek look of AV equipment.