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Philips Streamium MX6000i - home theater system with digital multimedia receiver review: Philips Streamium MX6000i - home theater system with digital multimedia receiver

Philips Streamium MX6000i - home theater system with digital multimedia receiver

Nathaniel Wilkins
5 min read
Philips Streamium MX6000i
A new member of Philips's Streamium line, the MX6000i is one of the first home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems capable of wirelessly streaming audio, video, and digital photos into your living room from networked PCs and the Internet. In addition to its innovative attributes, the $800 MX6000i packs a complete assortment of more standard HTIB features, including an integrated five-disc DVD/CD/MP3 CD changer, an AM/FM tuner, and surround-sound speakers. Although the system's network media features enhance an already solid home-theater system, the MX6000i's lack of some step-up features--such as video inputs and WMA support--will have power users opting for separate home-theater and network media devices. Measuring 17.1 inches wide, 14.6 inches deep, and only 3.8 inches tall, the MX6000i's main unit will easily fit in most home entertainment furniture. The nicely styled silver unit sports two front-panel dials: a volume control and a source selector. Although the source selector is excessively sensitive, that's not a big drawback since you're more likely to use the remote control anyway.

In comparison to many of the digital media receivers I've tested, one nice thing about the MX6000i is that it includes both a TV-based user interface and a four-line front-panel display, allowing you to navigate music even when the TV is off. The underwhelming but decent remote control doesn't include Page Up and Page Down buttons, so you'll have to use the alphanumeric keys to skip around in track lists.


Philips Streamium MX6000i - home theater system with digital multimedia receiver

The Good

Full home-theater system with five-disc changer; wirelessly streams audio, video, and image files from the Internet and networked PCs; TV and front-panel navigation; supports DivX video and Web radio.

The Bad

Doesn't support Windows Media files; lacks video inputs; mediocre bass performance; can't accompany photo slide shows with music; doesn't include CD database lookup capability; doesn't support Macs.

The Bottom Line

Philips's network-friendly home-theater system covers the basics, but serious home-theater and digital media fans will want more.

The MX6000i includes two stereo analog audio inputs, a coaxial digital audio input, a coaxial digital audio output, and an analog line output. Composite, S-Video, and component video outputs provide ample options for connecting the system to virtually any TV. While those connections should be adequate for most users, the system's lack of video inputs means your cable or satellite box will have to be connected directly to the TV. Although some other HTIBs have the same limitation, not being able to pull up the MX6000i's onscreen configuration menus while watching a cable or satellite source gets annoying.

The system includes a center-channel speaker, two surrounds, two front speakers, and front speaker stands that double as passive subwoofers. The speaker cabinets are silver plastic, but the bass pipe segments of the speaker stands are metal. With the front speakers attached to the attractive but nonadjustable silver stands, the tweeters are nearly four feet off the ground, which, depending on your seating, may be a bit too high for ideal sound.

The MX6000i's onscreen menus are clean and well designed. In most instances, the screen is split into two panes, one providing a list of folders on the current level, and the other giving you a glimpse of the currently selected folder's contents. Menu navigation is easily executed using the remote's four-way keypad.

The five-disc changer offers Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and DTS surround processing. The system handles DVDs, CDs, and MP3 CDs, but DVD-Audio and SACD discs aren't supported. Strangely enough, this network-connected device can't retrieve album information, such as track titles, from the Internet when an audio CD is played, and it doesn't display CD artwork. Unfortunately, MP3 and MP3Pro are the only compressed audio formats supported.

JPEG, BMP, and GIF image files as well as MPEG-1, -2, and -4, and DivX (versions 4.0 and 5.03) video files can be played over your network. In terms of format support, the main drawback is that neither Windows Media audio nor video files are compatible with the MX6000i. Digital photo slide-show enthusiasts will also be disappointed by the device's inability to accompany the slide shows with music, but Philips says a future firmware upgrade may correct that limitation. To enable playing PC-based media files over the MX6000i, the PC where the files are stored must be on the same network as the MX6000i, and the computer must be running the included Philips Media Manager application.

Philips claims the MX6000i outputs 75 watts per channel, but the total harmonic distortion (THD) spec is extremely high at 10 percent. That said, when the system was installed in our midsize home-theater room, it played adequately loud without noticeably straining. The center speaker features dual 2-inch midbass drivers and a 1.75-inch tweeter; each of the front and surround speakers has dual 3-inch woofers and a 1.75-inch tweeter, while each bass reflex sub sports a paltry 4-inch driver.

In addition to allowing users to individually add Internet radio station URLs, the MX6000i supports a wide array of free and fee-based Web media services, which you configure at the myphilips.com portal. Selections include the Andante on-demand classical music service, plus the Playhouse Radio for children, RadioFreeVirgin, Launchcast@Yahoo, Live365, and Musicmatch Internet radio services. Only Andante requires a subscription ($10 per month), while optional Musicmatch and Live365 subscriptions get you access to premium versions of the services that include perks such as a larger assortment of stations. You can also play a handful of simple games and view iFilm short movies, Launch Music Videos, and Yahoo Movie trailers. The Andante service and its sound quality are good, but because the catalog is limited to classical music, I found myself wishing the MX6000i also supported Rhapsody, a mainstream on-demand subscription music service.

Philips's Streamium line includes an assortment of digital media receivers. Although the MC-i250 boombox ($329) and the SL-300i ($299) and SL-400i ($449) components can also stream files from networked PCs and the Internet, the MX6000i is one of only a handful of HTIBs that has the same capabilities; Kenwood's similarly priced HTB-N810DV is the only competitor, though that will certainly change in 2005 and beyond. RCA's RTD750 ($800 list) HTIB can stream audio from the Internet and has a built-in hard drive, but it isn't capable of streaming files from your PC.

The MX6000i didn't have any problems playing the Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS soundtracks on our test DVDs, and the progressive-scan output helped ensure the crispness and clarity of images when displayed on a 480p-capable HDTV. Unlike a typical A/V receiver, the MX6000i takes quite a while---30 seconds or longer--to boot up. The MX6000i's wireless connectivity was generally stable; the unit suffered only occasional dropouts, even when playing video files from our test PC's hard drive.

The MX6000i sounded pretty good playing both DVDs and music. The system fared well with Jurassic Park's Tyrannosaurus rex scene. Dialog was clear, the sound stage had some depth, and the giant dinosaur's roars were forceful enough to raise my heart rate. As long as you don't expect the same kind of tight, bone-crunching bass that higher quality active sub designs deliver, you'll probably be satisfied with the MX6000i's balanced DVD sound. When we fired up Santana's Shaman album, the system came through again, delivering a generally well balanced sound stage including smooth treble and well proportioned midrange. Again, we just wished for punchier bass.

In the final analysis, the MX6000i is a mixed bag like so many other cutting-edge products. Cool features abound, but so do minor annoyances.


Philips Streamium MX6000i - home theater system with digital multimedia receiver

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 7