One of the slickest qualities any gadget can have is a talent for throwing digital data through the air, where once it would have been crawling along the floor courtesy of a long piece of copper wire. Listen up, hi-fi fans: however good your cables are, they’re still cables. And cables aren’t cool.
Which is where this little peach of a system comes in. The WACS7000 is an upgrade on its identical-looking predecessor, the WACS700, and it really is a truly wire-free piece of kit. The centre unit and the smaller ‘station’ talk to each other – and to your PC – via the 802.11g standard.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
It’s no bad thing that you can hardly tell it apart from the ’700: the aesthetics were already spot-on, from the sleek, black-gloss finish to the intelligent-looking display and a stylish and sensible button layout.
Both the main unit and the station come packing 40w of digital amplification, fed into the ingenious on-board NXT flat panel speakers. You can pump the sound from the central unit to up to five of these little stations, giving you the wonder of wireless tunes all over the house.
The main unit has a CD player for playing discs as well as burning them to its hard drive, as well as an FM radio tuner. And of course, if you have a home Wi-Fi network you can stream music from your PC to the unit, too.
More connection and recording options
So what are the improvements over the ’700? The centre unit now packs an 80GB hard drive, twice the size of the previous version, and has a USB port for hooking up a ‘key’-style MP3 player. You can also rip your CDs in any bitrate up to 320kbps – the ‘700 only allowed up to 160kbps.
The whole package, despite its complex functionality, is an absolute breeze to set up and use. The two remotes (one with screen) are well-designed and intuitive, and Philips has clearly put some serious grey matter into making this an easy-to-use device for the everyman, as opposed to a dedicated geek’s gadget.
It even sounds a little more full-bodied than its predecessor.
Audiophiles, cover your ears
Our only warning is to audiophiles: the Philips doesn’t quite offer the sonic refinement and detail you might expect in a £700 system. But it still sounds pretty decent, and what it does offer over other, non-wireless systems makes it a very cool and easy-to-live-with solution.