Playing a CD is a piece of cake, and although ripping a CD to the hard disk is easy, it's unbearably slow, and you can't use any other feature of the system while it's ripping. Similarly, copying music from a PC over Ethernet directly on the Centre's HDD was intolerably sluggish. Although the 7500 would locate our networked computer, it would produce 'Not found' errors when trying to connect to it, though over simple home networks this is unlikely to be an issue.
We had problems on occasion getting the Station to connect to the Centre too, but once the systems played ball we found browsing content over the wireless connection extremely simple. If you're looking for a jukebox for your lounge and a media streamer for your bedroom, you won't get much more simple to use than this. When it behaves itself, that is.
On the main Centre, although on occasion a little harsh in the high end, sound quality is very clear, bright and well balanced. Bass is smooth, and not overpowering. Philips has made significant advances since the WACS7000 and the extra effort has paid off. It's no rival to a decent rack of separates and good speakers, but it's more than acceptable for an all-in-one.
Most types of music sounded fairly good, a notable favourite
being Ingrid Michaelson's terrific track Glass, which had decent
overall tones. Some drum 'n' bass from Pendulum was handled well, but
lacked that floor-shaking power the hardcore extremists will crave. The
smaller Station didn't impress with its sound, however. It's acceptable,
but it's a far cry from the often-decent sound of the main Centre.
The Philips Streamium WACS7500 is a costly system considering its lack of format support, small hard drive, slow performance and temperamental network functionality. It's uniquely useful as a whole package despite that, however. It's absolutely not for the audiophiles, as a system paired with a cheap home server and decent speakers will give you far better experience.
But for the average music fan who wants a multi-room streaming solution, it's very likable -- just be prepared to spend some time getting used to its quirks.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide