A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine came to visit. While we tried to have a normal chat like normal people we ended up talking about RSS, tech news and so.
At some point he touched an argument that I’m very interested on.
He told me that he recently bought the Roku Labs’ SoundBridge. I opened FireFox and searched for it. One of the nice things is that the maker suggests users to hack it and make new developments. Oh, sorry, I forgot to say what the SoundBridge is. It’s a wireless music player. You need a computer (Windows or Mac) a wi-fi hub and a plug. You plug the SoundBridge and it gets connected to your computer through the wi-fi network. Using a remote you can pick the songs you like best and play them.
Before going out and buying it I wanted to get more information. I found a number of alternative products, but all very similar. Here’s an unsorted list:
All these products (and more that I’m not listing) behave in the same way. They get connected to your computer and play music. All these devices, unfortunately, also REQUIRE external speakers.
All of them have output ports.
None of these has internal speakers.
Now I wonder, if I have a computer and have a ton of MP3’s why would I need the wi-fi connection to a “standard” HI-FI system? If I have an HI-FI system I will certainly have a CD player. I can burn a CD (maybe RW) and play that music on my HI-FI. Why do I need a wi-fi connection? To save me from burning a CD? I could use a wire, the quality would be better than the wi-fi and not have a problem with interferences…
What I think is really cool about the wi-fi connection is that you can take it with you. What I think would be super-cool is not simply plugging these “receivers” to my HI-FI, but rather bring it with me, just like a portable radio, and play my music remotely.
I found two products that do this.
The HomePod is about exactly what I wanted. It has a wi-fi, it has output ports, it is small and has internal speakers.
Another product that is more a stand-alone complete product is the Streamium by Philips, also known as “Wireless Music Center” in Italy and other countries, I suppose. I saw it in a store near my house. It’s not too small, but it’s a really good idea. It has a base station with a CD player that may also RIP the songs and store them on a hard-drive. It broadcasts music on the wi-fi and you may buy as many remote stations as you need. Each station connects to the base station, has a small LCD screen to see song titles, playlists, etc. Speakers seem of good quality. This product is exactly the opposite of the first ones, it may not be plugged to an existing HI-FI. There is no reference to an open protocol, thus I think you may be compelled to use the “Streamium stations” and not any other of the products I listed above.
My final choice is the HomePod, the only product that does what I like. Too bad it’s really ugly (at least IMHO).
Both the SoundBridge and the Noxon are really neat.
The Philips Streamium is the complete solution if you need to start from scratch (new apartment?).