Philips ShoqBox (PSS110) MP3 player

You like your MP3 player and no doubt the music on it. Trouble is, chances are, unless you’ve already gone out and bought a bolt-on speaker system, when it comes to sharing the music you can’t.

Philips are trying to cut out the middleman with, you guessed it, an all-in-one MP3 player-come-speaker set called the ShoqBox, or more unadventurously the PSS110.

The premise is simple. Take an MP3 player, take a set of speakers and offer both in the same box as one conjoined harmonious unit.

Rather disappointingly, the unit is currently only available in a 256Mb model and although we are sure Philips could easily cram in some more memory space, they haven’t.

It won’t take you long to get past the annoyance that you can only store four hours of MP3 tracks on the system, but its still one that we think Philips should have thought about.

This is especially puzzling as the player, perhaps due to the speakers, isn’t small and obviously designed not to be. Roughly the size of a couple of cans of coke stacked end to end and laying on their side, the polished white unit sports two small speakers and a even smaller mono LCD display in the middle. The back offers connection to a PC via a slow USB1.1, lineout and charger.

As with virtually every other MP3 player, tracks are accessed via an on screen menu that gives you the chance to select music via the usual array of artist, album, genre etc and Philips has played it safe here. There are no crazy innovative options here.

Even with the traditional menu system it seemed incredibly slow in our tests and although we aren’t talking minutes, there is a definite lag to requests.

Getting music to the player means connection to a PC and then accessing the player via Music Match. Although you can drag and drop files directly to the drive the menu system won’t recognise any music moved in this way. However, anyone wishing to get the tracks off the player without DRM kicking in need only connect to a Mac and copy away.

Is there any saving grace? Probably the inclusion of the alarm clock that means you can wake up to your favourite MP3 track or radio station. Yet even this throws in a curve ball - there is no snooze. Anyone who likes to steal that extra 20 minutes before the alarm kicks in again will most likely find himself or herself being late for work on a regular basis.

Verdict

So is there any hope for the ShoqBox? Not really. The memory is too small and the speakers woefully underperform. Even the alarm clock comes with its own problems.

If you are looking to share your music collection with the world our suggestion would be to spend the extra cash and not only get a decent MP3 player, but also a separate set of speakers to go with it.