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Christmas Gift Guide

You might think those speakers in your living room sound pretty decent and look reasonably cool, and you're probably right. But Philips wants you to swap them for something that looks like it came down with the last spaceship from Alpha Centauri and sounds like the galaxy's imploding. Enter the SoundSphere MCi900 and MCD900 speaker systems.

The bug-eyed style isn't just to attract headlines: Philips claims there's some science behind it. The detached tweeter is designed to radiate sound in all direction and separate the high end from the bassy low end. Stylistically, this is an interesting look, but the idea of keeping bass and treble separate is something Philips also does on its TVs, with good effect.

There are two models available. The MCi900 is an Internet and home-network aware device that features Philips' home-audio Streamium system. It contains a 160GB hard drive to store all your favourite music, and can access a plethora of Internet radio stations. The MCD900 is a more simple device, and comes in a silver colour that's less classy than the MCi900's glossy titanium look.

In the confines of the busy hotel, here at Philips' annual launch in Barcelona, the SoundSphere speakers sounded very good indeed. We're not going to judge the systems based on our limited time hearing them, but suffice to say we were very impressed with the short demo we had. The cost is a major issue, however, with the MCi900 going for £875 and the MCD900 available at a slightly lower £700.

We've fired off a few photos of these unusual beasts, so have a flick through them and keep your eyes on CNET UK for a full review when the systems are released.

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Here's the shiny main unit of the MCi900.
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Here's that little tweeter close-up. It's designed to project the sound all around the room and separate the treble from the other lower-end sounds. Normally there would be a cover on the woofer below, but we've opted to show it without so you can see the woofer in all its glory.
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The remote control isn't as radical as the speakers. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it isn't radical at all.
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Wi-Fi is a key part of the MCi900, allowing you to stream music.
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The Wi-Fi aerial is hardly subtle, but we predict it will do a decent job of finding your home network.
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As you might expect, there are controls on the main unit for most functions.
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The beautiful built-in screen allows you to navigate through all the basic functions of the device and select the source you intend to play from.
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Philips says this audio system is designed for audiophiles, and claims that it can outperfom any other system in its price range. We'll make that judgement when we get it in for a full review.
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