With the home becoming more wireless than ever, Netgear, providers of wireless network routers and gateways seem to be going in the same direction as Linksys- the home entertainment market. Its latest venture is the Digital Music Player that will connect to your network wirelessly.
The stylish grey box, which is totally controlled via remote, has no buttons on it. All you are presented with is on the front is a four line display while the rear offers connections for phono line out, a headphone socket, and Ethernet LAN for direct connection to a network.
Setup is relatively straightforward and the install disk (currently only available for PC users) configures the player on your machine and works out the relevant IP addresses to connect to. Adding tracks to access is done via either searching your hard drive or accessing your Windows Media Player library. After a quick scan- this will take longer if you've got lots of music files- you're ready to start listening.
The player's range is roughly 100ft and this does vary according to the positioning of the player and the type of walls you have in your house. Testing it we managed a good 50ft from the office where the PC is based to the living room where we set up the speakers.
Like Windows Media Player, tracks are sorted by artist, genre, playlist and grouped into albums or single tracks. The four-line display offers information (if available) on everything from song title, recording quality and track number in the album. The display is very clear and Netgear has opted for a white text on black background to complement the style attributes of the player. The remote as you would expect offers quick access to all of the above and a handy home key will always get you back to the start in one quick press of the button. Take care not to lose it though!
If you are fed up of having plenty of songs on your computer, but then not being able to listen to them anywhere else than the PC, this unit will allow you to share the love in another room. Because you're only transmitting song files around the place you only need a wireless-b connection and unlike Linksys' or Hauppauge's efforts you don't need to worry about connecting this to a TV to see what you're doing. The style and form of the player are great as is the usability. Top Marks.