When the Logitech Squeezebox Boom came out last year, it set a new standard for Wi-Fi radios. It's expensive, but offers excellent sound quality, a smart design, and tonnes of features in a tiny package. For a long time, no competing products even came close. The Philips Streamium NP2900 is the first real competitor to the Boom's dominance of the high-end Wi-Fi radio market.
The NP2900 is the first Wi-Fi radio we've seen with a colour display, and it makes the most of it with a graphical user interface that displays your album art along with your music. The NP2900 can stream music from a variety of sources (Internet radio and connected PCs, for example), and its 'living sound' feature does a surprisingly good job of making the radio sound bigger than its size.
The biggest problem with the NP2900 is its current price of around £220 -- £30 more than the Boom. It's hard to justify the extra cost when the Boom offers more streaming music services, has more responsive controls, and sounds just as good. Judged on its own merits, the NP2900 is an excellent Wi-Fi radio, with a particularly attractive design and solid sound quality, but its high price will limit its audience.
The NP2900 is a slick-looking radio. Sitting atop a small silver stand, it consists of a long (35cm), slim (7cm deep) black cabinet, with rounded corners, and a tapered back panel. There's a silver strip that runs along the perimeter, and the front of the unit is dominated by a black speaker grille that surrounds the display. In terms of style, we'd rather have the NP2900 in our kitchen than the competing Boom.
The only buttons on the NP2900 are located on the top of the unit, and there are only four of them -- power, volume up and down, and mute. That means you can't navigate your music collection using the controls on the unit. Instead you have to use the remote. We would have at least liked a clickable wheel on the unit for times when the remote goes missing, or when you're standing right over the radio.
Separating the NP2900 from every other Wi-Fi radio we've reviewed is its 102mm (4-inch) colour screen. While most Wi-Fi radios have a simple monochrome display, capable of displaying a couple lines of text, the NP2900's screen is capable of displaying album art and a full graphical user interface. The screen definitely serves as eye candy -- we love that it displays all of our album art -- but it's also functional, making the device less intimidating to use for tech novices.
User interface and set-up
The basic user interface is well laid out, with simple menu options like 'music', 'Internet radio' and 'aux' showing up on the home menu. When you start playing a song, the artist and song information show up on the display, with the album art in the background. We're meticulous about updating our album art and it was a treat to see the NP2900 automatically display it when it started playing our tracks.