Britain becoming a nation of music downloaders is one thing. Being able to only listen to them on your PC in the spare room is something completely different. The idea of wirelessly distributing your music around the house isn't new.
Network manufacturers have all had a go over the last year at producing wireless media players, with mixed results. Creative coming from a music background has decided to have a go at producing its own variant of the wireless media player. Launched in America last year, but only the UK last month, Creative's new player promises to break away from the confines of the television.
Where the device differs from other efforts before is the inclusion of an all-powerful remote control that connects to the base unit via RF transmission meaning you don't have to rely on a separate screen to see your choices around the house or even be in the same room as the unit.
The wireless box is just that and offers an optical out as well as phono left and right sockets. For updating the firmware and connecting to your wireless network there is a USB connection for a PC.
The remote is annoyingly ugly. It's large, bulky and looks more like a scientific measuring device rather than a remote control you would want in your house. The main crux of the remote is the five-line mono display that accesses Creative's music software MediaSource. Like the remote, the dependence on yet another music program to organise everything in the package is understandable but annoying. It would be nice to see support for Windows Media Player or other products if it's trying to be universal.
Gripes about design aside, the screen on the remote is a good idea and it allows you to access your files without needing a television or monitor screen to change the tracks. The interface is simply a bigger version of the Creative MP3 player UI and users of Creative's players will be right at home.
This package has been available in the States for over a year now and you can clearly see that in the design and application. Creative's stab at this market to over here is still in its early stages. It's a valiant attempt and one that given a bit more development will certain offer a good alternative. But with players like Linksys, Apple and Netgear all offering very good products there is plenty of competition.