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Philips WACS700 Wireless Music Centre review: Philips WACS700 Wireless Music Centre

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The Good Stylish design. Choice of audio from each station. Easy to rip CDs.

The Bad Difficult to configure into an existing wireless setup. Low quality display screens. Poorly laid out remote.

The Bottom Line The WACS700 is an easy to set up wireless music serving system, but it's not without its quirks. If you're more of a Hi-Fi person than a PC person it's definitely worth contemplating, but those with more PC networking nouce could replicate the WAC700's features rather easily.

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Design
Philips' WACS700 Wireless Music Centre meets one of the core criteria for home audio equipment -- it looks good. The WACS700 Music Centre comprises at least one Centre unit and one Music Station -- although up to four additional units (AU$599) can be added depending on the user's preferences. The design motif of both the Music Centre and Station is practically identical, with piano-black style front facing and relatively simple front button layouts for menu selection and simple track playback.

The Music Centre itself is a physically imposing unit that can be either left free-standing or wall mounted -- brackets are provided for this purpose. The Stations are miniaturised copies of the Music Centre, sans the top-loading CD tray. The only visually unappealing part of both units are the extruding wireless modules, although this is really a minor quibble.

Aside from the units, the WACS700 also ships with two remotes -- one small and simple remote that can be used with either the central station or music stations -- and a considerably more complex remote that has its own LCD screen that mimics the display on the main station. While the Stations themselves are superbly designed from a visual viewpoint, the same sadly doesn't hold true for the main remote. It feels cheap, and it's extremely poorly laid out. The vast majority of the buttons are exactly the same size and shape, and to add to the remote's problems, they're all labelled with the smallest possible text, making it a real chore to sort out functions on the fly, especially if you're new to the remote. A good remote control should be intuitive to use -- and this is about as far from intuitive as you can get.

Features
The WACS700 comes with a 40GB hard drive which Philips rates as being capable of storing up to 750 albums. That's an unusual claimed figure -- if you equate an album to being around ten tracks, for example, that means that the 40GB of storage on the Media Centre is filled with only half the music that Apple claims can fit onto its 30GB fifth generation iPod. Philps states that the actual free space is less due to the MP3 compression buffer partition, firmware, music CD datbase and demo tracks stored. The hard drive isn't user-upgradeable.

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