Fortunately, if you’ve already ripped your entire CD collection to your PC’s hard disk, you don’t have to go through the whole rigmarole of doing it again, disc by disc. The base station has an Ethernet connection for this purpose, and once set up, you can also send newly encoded albums to it over the wireless connection using the bundled Philips music management software.
I had the main music centre set up in the lounge, with the station in the kitchen and it worked like a dream. Having my entire CD collection to hand while cooking the dinner, without having to clutter up surfaces with CD cases, is a real boon. Even at far ends of the house, with the centre downstairs and the station upstairs – and several layers of Victorian masonry in between – the streaming worked without a hitch. The two-way remote works nicely too, enabling you to browse your entire music collection on a backlit LCD screen – just as well as the screen on the unit itself is completely unreadable at a distance of more than about a metre and a half.
There are a few extra features which work very nicely too. The base station and satellite systems can be set up so that music ‘follows’ the listener from room to room. With this feature enabled, when you press OK on entering a room containing a music station it will start to play the same music you were listening to in the previous room. There’s also the facility to ‘broadcast music’. This plays the same music on all units simultaneously – what Philips calls the ‘party mode’.
So far so good, but the system is not perfect. Though initial setup proceeded without a hitch, moving the station and centre around can cause problems that are harder to solve. After one particular relocation, the satellite just seemed to lose contact with the base station altogether and bizarrely, only by selecting the Station status option in the Station management menu did I eventually manage to re-establish the link.