Shootout: Three Wireless Multiroom Music Systems Page 3

The Short Form
$999 / WAC700: 24 x 12 x 7 IN / 16.9 LBS; WAS700: 14.25 x 11 x 5 IN / 9.2 LBS /
•Easy setup and operation •Excellent main remote •Cool styling
•Can't stream directly from PC •40-GB drive is pretty tiny
Key Features
WAC700 Base Station: •40-GB hard drive •Slot-load CD player, FM tuner •Plays MP3, WMA, PCM files •Rips MP3 (160/128 kbps) at 1x/4x speed •Records FM or auxiliary source to drive •Gracenote database for track information •Ethernet connection for transferring files from PC and Gracenote data updates •Supports up to 5 WAS700 clients •2-way LCD remote control •Onboard amp/speakers: 2 x 13 watts (tweeters), 2 x 22 watts (woofers) •Digital Media Manager software (Windows; Mac available on Philips website) WAS700 Remote Station: •Wi-Fi receiver/player for WAC700 base •Onboard amp/speakers: 2 x 4 watts (tweeters), 1 x 8 watts (woofer) •Card-style compact remote control •Price: WAC/WAS700 bundle, $999; WAS700, $299
The base station's built-in speakers provide very respectable sound for a tabletop system. Tweeters on the front provide a crisp high end, while larger woofers fire out the rear; if the unit is in front of a wall, you get a nice reflection and a broad sound field. The base unit has stereo line outs, so you can jack it into a bigger system. The remote station has only one downward-firing woofer and no line outputs, but you could use its headphone jack to feed a secondary system.

Selecting music from the scroll-down LCD menu was a snap. You can choose by playlist, artist, album, or genre. Very conveniently, the main remote's LCD mirrors the base unit's display - too bad it can't be used with the WAS700.

I really liked the convenience of the Music Follows Me and Music Broadcast buttons. Music Follows Me lets you easily stop playback in one room and pick up where you left off in the second room. Music Broadcast lets you stream the same music to all connected stations.

BOTTOM LINE Given its modest 40-GB hard drive, the Philips Streamium Wireless Music Center's inability to stream music directly from a networked computer or drive may be a limitation. But this system's great strength is that it makes complicated tasks so easy. Everything worked intuitively - within minutes out of the box, your airwaves will be filled with your favorite songs.