The Philips Streamium line offers a variety of options for streaming your music around your home. The NP1100 is designed to link your existing Hi-Fi system up to your home network and the Internet to open the gateway for even more music.
Measuring 195 x 104 x 38mm, the NP1100 takes its design cues from the rest of the Streamium range in silver and black, with the signature clear Perspex flare around the front edge. The front of the device features an LCD display in the centre of the otherwise black front. In terms of build-quality, the NP1100 is solid and feels and looks like a premium product.
Around the back of the device you’ll find the connections, firstly an RJ45 port so you can hard wire into your network. In terms of audio connection you have a 3.5mm headphone socket and left and right analogue audio outputs, as well as digital out, giving you a number of options so you can hook the NP1100 up to your "disconnected" device of choice, be it an existing Hi-Fi, amp in your home cinema setup, or pretty much anything else.
However, the ace up the sleeve is Wi-Fi, so you don’t need the wired network connection, meaning you can simply site the unit where it needs to be without worrying about a cable connection – although, you could simply opt to use a Homeplug network type connection to keep things tidy if you don’t have Wi-Fi, or prefer the simplicity of a wired connection.
In use the display does look a little basic and the viewing angle is rather limited – we found that with it sitting on a desk it was difficult to make out the screen and as the stand is not adjustable, this can be rather frustrating. The display is something of a double-edged sword as things are rather large so you can at least see them from the other side of the room which is how this type is device is likely to be used.
The supplied remote control provides access to the functions, with no buttons on the device itself besides standby. The menu presents options for Music, Internet Radio, Settings and Now Playing (when applicable). The default beep on every button press can thankfully be switched off, and navigation of the menus is fairly intuitive.
So to get to the real meat in the sandwich, connecting to your network is fairly straight-forward, a case of selecting your Wi-Fi network and entering any security details, which can be a little fiddly as you have to do this through multi-button presses on the remote, but you should only have to do this once. You then have access to any UPnP music servers on your network, as well as internet radio, streaming in through your existing music system.
There are plenty of options to navigate the internet radio stations out there, from direct search to browsing through genre, language, etc. You can then set your favourites so you can easily get back to those you want without searching again.
Accessing music on your home network can be more difficult – internet radio is straight-forward by comparison – as more variables come into play. Having enabled sharing through Windows Media Player 11, our PC quickly recognised the NP1100 as a network device to enable sharing. Of course, networking being what it is, there is always potential for things to get confusing with different settings at both ends of the process.
Once you have successfully connected into your source of network music you get the normal options for shuffle or random play, as well as search functions, either through scrolling or multi-press text entry on the remote control. The NP1100 will support directories with nesting up to eight levels and will support MP3, WMA and AAC files. You can also update the device firmware directly over the Internet or, via PC, using the supplied device manager.
The remote also gives you volume controls, which will probably be obsolete for those linking into a system with a separate amp, as well as enough shortcut buttons to directly access areas of the menu without having to navigate through the whole lot – for example, directly into your Favourites.
With increasing movements to connect up different media around the home, the Philips NP1100 Network Music Player provides a simple way to bring internet radio and music stored on your PC to your existing music system, with the display and remote giving you ample control to easily select your track of choice.
The screen doesn’t look great when viewed up close, but from several metres away the text is large enough to read, so is something of a compromise. The viewing angle is a shame, as if you are standing, you will struggle to make out the details, and it can be a little blocky as the text scrolls across the screen.
Overall though, a great way to bridge the gap between your PC and your Hi-Fi.