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Philips Debuts Distributed Audio For Do-It-Yourself Customers

1/06/2005 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Philips' do-it-yourself music-server solution is a six-zone pedestal-mounted tabletop stereo system with AM/FM tuner, CD player/ripper, and 40GB HDD. It streams compressed music simultaneously to up to five speaker-equipped tabletop clients.

The system, called the Wireless Music Center WACS700, ships in April at a tentative suggested $899-$999 for one main unit, one wireless client with AM/FM tuner, and a two-way remote. Additional clients are tentatively set to retail for a suggested $299.

Philips said it is the industry's lowest priced non-PC-based music-server system announced to date, and it plays back up to six different songs simultaneously in six different rooms.

Song menus are displayed on the LCD screens of the main unit and client and on the six-line LCD remote, which includes a "follow me" button that lets a song follow a user who is moving from room to room.

The server stores music in compressed MP3 and WMA formats and in uncompressed PCM format, but only compressed music is distributed via wireless 802.11b from the HDD to clients. The system uses Microsoft's UPnP for automatic device and feature recognition.

The built-in ripper encodes music in 192Kbps MP3, but WMA files can be transferred for storage.

The client and servers feature a new type of flat-panel membrane speaker to deliver mids and highs and maintain a slim form factor. The server also features rear-firing cone woofers. The woofers are lacking in the clients, but they and the server feature a subwoofer output for an optional subwoofer.

Song menus are displayed on the LCD screens of the main unit and client and on the six-line LCD remote. A "follow me" button on the remote and on the clients lets a song follow a user who is moving from room to room.

The 23.9-inch by 10.4-inch by 6.9-inch main unit, called the audio center, uses a Class D digital amp rated at 2x40 watts RMS. The 14.2-inch by 10.4-inch by 6.9-inch clients, which lack radio tuner and CD player, feature 2x10-watt digital amp.

The audio center will download metadata from the CDDB database but not stream Internet radio.

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