While the NP2900 zips through the standard menus quickly, it's not quite as quick to sort through a large library of music. The competing Boom is incredibly responsive in this regard, whereas the NP2900 chugs along at a slower -- sometimes frustrating -- speed, even when its 'superscroll' function kicks in. It's not unbearable, but slightly more speed would be welcome.
As mentioned before, the only way to navigate the NP2900 is using the included remote. It's a full-size clicker, which we like, but we did run into some issues. For example, the directional pad doesn't work exactly as you'd expect it to. Counterintuitively, the right and left directions won't move you right and left in the menus -- you need to press 'OK' to move right and the back button to move left. We got used to this eventually.
Some people may also be annoyed that there's no option to fast-forward or rewind, which can be a minor annoyance, especially in terms of podcasts. On the other hand, the remote does a good job of separating important functions like the volume rocker and playback controls, while the full number pad make it easier to enter in search terms.
Like all Wi-Fi radios, the NP2900 can tune into the thousands of free Internet radio stations, instead of the standard AM/FM fare. If you can't stand what's available on AM/FM (neither can we) and don't want to pay for satellite radio (neither do we), there are plenty of great stations available online for just about everybody. Philips doesn't disclose what service populates its listings, but we found plenty of quality stations across several genres. If your favourite station isn't listed, you can register on Philips' Web site and add it yourself.
In addition to media streamed off the Internet, the NP2900 is capable of streaming media from a connected PC. The NP2900 comes with TwonkyServer software included, and our experience of setting it up was fairly painless, which is quite a feat for a network music player. Our testing scenario included a networked-attached storage drive filled with music, and we were easily able to point the TwonkyServer software at the applicable folders to create our music library.
Around the back of the unit, the NP2900 offers up a few inputs and outputs if you want to use it with other equipment. There's a headphone jack for late-night listening, as well as a coaxial digital audio output if you want to connect the NP2900 to a home-cinema receiver. If you don't need the built-in speakers of the NP2900, you can opt for the step-down NP2500. There's a stereo analogue auxiliary input, which consists of two RCA jacks, rather than the more common mini-jack input. Rounding out the connectivity is an Ethernet jack.
The NP2900 has several optional sound modes designed to enhance audio quality. The best of the bunch is 'living sound', which utilises two speakers in the back of the unit, plus some additional sound processing, to create a more room-filling sound. We're usually sceptical about sound-altering effects, but living sound is well implemented and really helps the NP2900 sound bigger than its diminutive size. 'Full sound' purportedly 'restores' the lost information from compressed music, but we found it mostly boosted the bass, which occasionally led to distortion, so we turned it off. 'Dynamic bass boost' is another bass-boosting option, and we turned it off too.