network music players
NP1100
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Review: Philips Streamium NP1100 network music player

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Quick Version: In a world chock full of streaming music devices, the Philips Streamium NP1100 blends into the crowd as a straightforward, easy-to-use network device.

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Overview and Features:

  • Wired and/or wireless network music playback
  • Internet radio
  • Rhapsody online music service
  • Connects to stereo/home theater or headphones
  • Uses Windows Media Player 11 and/or UPnP to stream music
  • MSRP of $179.99

Pros:

The Streamium NP1100 from Philips is a relatively unassuming network music player. You plug it in, turn it on, and it finds the music on your UPnP-enabled computers. It also connects to Rhapsody’s online music service and features internet radio stations from all over the world. Lest you think that “unassuming” sounds negative, when it comes to devices that are meant to play music, sometimes the simpler, the better.

Sound quality is excellent. I tested the NP1100 hooked up to the home stereo, computer speakers, cheap headphones, $100 headphones, and $400 noise-cancelling headphones and the music, whether streaming from my computer, an internet radio station, or Rhapsody, sounded great. If I had an awesome home stereo system, the likes of which you’d see in fancy houses with things like “fireplaces” and “recessed lighting,” the NP1100 would sit handsomely next to the other high-priced audio components and push out high-quality music for me to listen to while I read the evening paper over a snifter of brandy-flavored beer from the gas station.

Rhapsody users, especially, would do well by this device. You can stream all of your personally downloaded Rhapsody tracks as well as search for and play music directly from Rhapsody’s enormous library. You’d literally have an almost unlimited music collection at the ready without having to download a bunch of files.

Cons:

The interface is a little “blah,” which is unfortunate because the device itself looks nice, with a sleek black finish and handsome translucent edges. It’s kind of like buying a nice, shiny new flat panel TV and then hooking up an old VCR to it and watching movies from the 80s that you taped off of network TV. It just seems out of place.

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Also, while the NP1100 worked really well over a wired connection, when hooked up wirelessly there was just enough lag and buffering to sometimes make navigating with the included remote kind of a pain. I’d end up trying to skip backwards to earlier tracks on an album only to restart playing the same track over and over again until I could finally double-press the back button quickly enough to get to the previous track.

Finally, an MSRP of $179 seems a bit expensive, especially given the sheer number of competing devices on the market. The NP1100 can be found for less online, though.

Recommendation:

If you like music, want it to sound good, and don’t want a bunch of extra fluff, the Streamium NP1100 is easy enough to set up and use that serious music lovers – especially Rhapsody subscribers – might find the device to be a good fit. The design of the hardware itself is sleek, although it’s evened out by a boring, dated UI. In a world full of music streamers, the Streamium NP1100 falls somewhere in the middle.

Network Music Player – NP1100 [Philips.com]

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