Philips' pioneering WACS700 system was one of the first products to rip CDs onto hard disc then wirelessly stream music across a home network. Now the company has extended that philosophy to a micro hi-fi.
And streaming's not all you get. As well as its 80GB hard drive, the WACS3500 has (deep breath now) a CD player, FM radio, USB input, iPod dock and wireless networking.
The wireless connectivity allows you to link to a PC and access any tunes stored there, either by streaming or ripping them. It can also operate as a wireless hub, feeding up to five audio stations, or tap into thousands of internet radio broadcasters. It's equally easy to use in all departments.
But while the tech department was having a field day, the design team behind Philips' previous WACS products must have been kept in the dark. This is an unbelievably blocky product, completely lacking in the minimalist kudos of, say, the 700.
Typical of the muddled thinking is the decision to put the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the central unit, while the USB port is front-facing.
Not so sound sound
Also unimpressive is the sound quality. It's not terrible, but a system designed to access so many different sources should surely make you want to actually listen to music.
Review continues after the break...
However, the flat and uninspiring performance lacks the dynamics to rock, while the barely competent midrange stubbornly refuses to provide insight into your tunes.
This latest WACS feels like a system built to do lots, but with a fixed price in mind. The result is a series of design and audio shortcuts that left us feeling rather cold.
If it's a multi-talented micro hi-fi you're after, you'd do much better to look at its more expensive sibling, the WACS700, or Sony's NAS-50 HDE Gigajuke.