A search facility has been added, but the menu system is still sluggish and unresponsive, meaning browsing can be an extremely frustrating experience. And, there’s no simple way of queuing up tracks as you’re listening. You have to go through the long-winded process of creating a playlist and adding a track to it before you can start to queue up tracks – the feature isn’t available while streaming music using UPnP either. It’s a pretty basic feature that surely wouldn’t have cost Philips much in software development time to implement properly.
And while we’re talking about the negatives, it’s also worth highlighting the file format support, which is limited. You’ll be able to play WMA and MP3 files (including VBR MP3s) – we’d be surprised if you couldn’t – but there’s no support for DRM protected WMA files, WMA Pro, Apple music files (AAC), OGG Vorbis or any of the lossless audio codecs that have been gaining in popularity in recent years, as the price of storage has fallen.
Whether or not the Philips WACS7000 can be considered a successful upgrade, or even worth buying at all, really depends on your needs. On the one hand it looks dated next to systems such as the Squeezebox 3 and Sonos wireless music systems. File format support is thin and the firmware is frustratingly basic and slow.
On the other hand, it offers quite a lot for your money. Although £528 may sound expensive, it does get you two wireless music streaming players with speakers and amplifiers thrown in, plus the facility for ripping CDs in your living room without having to cart your CDs to the PC every time you want to listen to something new.
Compare this with a couple of Squeezebox 3s – which will cost around £400 and don’t come with and amp or speakers built in, hard disk capacity or a ripping facility – and it’s starting to look more reasonable.
The WACS7000 won’t do for anyone wanting to add wireless music streaming to a current system. It’s not a patch on the Squeezebox for ease of use, features or file support. But if what you’re after is a one-box system for a couple of rooms such as the kitchen or conservatory, its simplicity and all-in-one nature makes it well worth a look.
Score in detail