Wading through sludge
So far so good, but the problem with this package is that it's just so poorly thought out and awkward to use. For example, rival systems from Sonos and Logitech have screens on their remote controls so you can browse through tracks without having to leave the comfort of your sofa, but this is not the case with Sony's units. The server has a colour LCD screen, but it's too small to read from more than a metre away, while the tiny monochrome screen on the wireless player is even less useful.
The other issue is the system's overall sluggishness. For example, switching between inputs takes an age and moving through the menus feels like wading through sludge. Plus, to access the party mode -- which lets you set both units to play the same track in sync -- you have to exit the normal play mode and wait around 15 seconds for the party mode to start up. By comparison, syncing units on the Sonos system is nearly instantaneous.
There are inconsistencies between the server unit and the wireless player too. For example, the wireless player can be used to listen to internet radio stations, but the server bizarrely omits this feature. Conversely the server unit has a DAB radio tuner, but the wireless music player doesn't.
This lack of uniformity across both devices, plus the poor interface adds up to a pretty disappointing user experience.
The package has a good range of features, including the built-in hard drive, onboard DAB tuner and CD player. The awkward interface and sluggish performance, however, make the whole package difficult and frustrating to use. Other systems from the likes of Sonos and Logitech may do less, but they get the important stuff right, which is something Sony has sadly failed to do here.
Edited by Nick Hide