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.
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.