The Good Relatively inexpensive digital audio streamer; glitch-free wireless streaming; provides access to Rhapsody and Internet radio without a PC on; stylish design.
The Bad Limited file format support; doesn't include as many music services as competitors; only supports PCs for streaming your own music files; slight pause between Rhapsody tracks.
The Bottom Line The Philips NP1100/37 lacks the bells and whistles of some other network digital audio players, but it should satisfy those looking for basic streaming on a budget.
Digital audio streamers may seem like old news in 2008, but the reality is that the product type has only reached maturity in the past couple of years, with relatively affordable, stable products like the Squeezebox Classic and the Apple TV. Still, both of those products are upward of $230 bucks and we've heard of plenty of consumers looking for a more affordable, basic option to stream their MP3s into the living room. That's the niche the Philips NP1100/37 is trying to fill, by offering the core functionality of the more expensive models, but coming in at a more reasonable $180. It eschews advanced functionality like onscreen album art and support for obscure digital audio file types, while still offering streaming from a PC, access to Internet radio, and the ability to tap into the Rhapsody subscription music service. If you're really into digital audio, you'll appreciate the more sophisticated and fully featured Squeezebox Classic, but the average buyer should be perfectly satisfied (and save some money) with the Philips NP1100/37.
Philips has a knack for attractive designs, and the NP1100/37 is no exception. From the front, the NP1100/37 is completely flat, with transparent plastic around the perimeter, and a glossy black center. Right in the center of the faceplate is a nice-size LCD screen, which is especially important since the screen is the only method of navigation with the NP1100. We also appreciated that the NP1100/37 turned into a pretty nice clock when we turned it off. The rest of the unit is very thin--the main unit is only a little more than an inch thick deep--and the only button to be found is a power button on the top. The look is fairly similar to another excellent digital audio streamer, the Squeezebox Classic, although we feel that the Squeezebox's screen is easier on the eyes.
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