Philips Streamium SL400i WiFi-Enabled Multimedia Receiver for Home and Internet Entertainment (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
- Wireless interface lets you enjoy PC multimedia--music, movies, and photos--on your TV and stereo system
- Easy access to Internet entertainment, including online music, movie trailers, photo collections, games (requires broadband Internet access)
- Offers composite-video, S-video, and progressive-scan component-video outputs; LCD lets you select audio content without turning on the TV
- New features, functions, and media formats readily available through Internet upgrades; WiFi 802.11g/b compatible for existing home networks
- Measures 17 x 3 x 11 inches (W x H x D)
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The Philips SL400i Wireless Multimedia Link increases the scope of your home entertainment system by giving you access to the multimedia content - online music, movie trailers, music videos, photo collections, Internet games - stored on your PC or direct from the internet. (Software Platform: Philips Proprietary)
Amazon.com Review If you've been hankering to integrate your digital media files with your enterta inment system, the Philips SL400i Streamium WiFi-enabled audio-video streaming d evice offers a slick path toward exactly that end. Without bogging down your PC' s resources, the SL400i gives you access to your complete library of digital pho tos, MP3 music, and computer- and Internet-based movies and video content--all w irelessly, provided your router or the supplied wireless adapter reaches your de sired playback spot.
The SL400i's easy-to-navigate menus help keep all your media accessible.
The supplied wireless USB transmitter is a blessing for anyone who doesn't have an existing wireless home network. If you plan to use the device with your exist ing network, make sure your hardware (router, wireless cardbus adapter, etc.) is WiFi-compliant (802.11g/b). While the product claims 802.11b compatibility, we strongly recommend using 802.11g or, with 802.11b, devices made in late 2003 and 2004; we experienced only intermittent success with a 2002 802.11b router. If a ll else fails, you can always connect a special crossover Ethernet (Cat5) cable, not supplied, between your computer and the SL400i.
With broadband Internet access and a compatible wireless home network already in place, setup should be delightfully simple: plug in the SL400i, hook up the aud io and video outputs with your TV or surround receiver, and turn it on. In our s ystem, the SL400i found our network automatically and allowed us to get right to Internet registration (at my.philips.com) so we could listen to any number of W eb radio stations while installing the Philips Media Manager software (or PMM) o n our computer. You'll need to disable your Microsoft and/or other computer-base d firewalls, relying instead on the firewall built into your wireless router. (O therwise, open ports 49152 to 65535 for the SL400i.)
See how you can use the supplied wireless USB transmitter to turn your home into a wireless network.
With respect to streaming your media files, the SL400i sees only the files or fo lders you've selected for it. Within the PMM--and right from your living room--y ou can sort music by artist, genre, album, or song, or select slideshow mode for viewing your JPEG digital photos. Full-screen mode expands JPEG images and vide o streams to literally fill your screen, a nice change from JPEG-friendly DVD pl ayers that render a digital photo as a tiny box with a huge black frame.
For music listening, you don't even need your TV on--the SL400i's handy LCD lets you select audio files or Internet radio stations in peace, a feature we'd like to see worked into DVD players' menu systems.
If you choose to keep your TV on while listening to music, the SL400i offers 2 d ifferent content-modulated visual patterns to choose from, a nice touch and a ni ce alternative to a blank screen. Philips is actively updating its services and its software, and the SL400i will periodically update its firmware--a cool featu re designed to keep the unit technologically shipshape, running ever more smooth ly and accommodating ever more formats. --Michael Mikesell
- Straightforward setup and installation when used with compatible hardware
- High-quality streaming audio and video
- Full-screen and slideshow options for JPEG image viewing
- Front-panel LCD permits music selection without having to turn on your TV
- Includes a wealth of online A/V content
- Supports music playlist creation
- Lets you search for next track while still listening to current track
- Fun, colorful, content-modulated screensavers
- Finicky performance with some 802.11b hardware
- Incompatible with computer-based Internet firewalls
What's in the Box
SL400i, remote control, remote batteries, an SL400i user's manual, a Philips Wir eless USB Adapter, a user's manual for the Philips Wireless USB Adapter, a USB c able, a quick-start guide, a composite-video/stereo analog audio interconnect, a stereo analog audio interconnect, an installation CD-ROM, a Philips Media Manag er CD-ROM, an AC power cord, and warranty/registration information.
Top customer reviews
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So I naturally jumped at the opportunity to evaluate a Philips Streamium SL400i, which I got around two weeks ago. I must note that I only tried out the PC link streaming functions, leaving the direct internet broadband connection option alone for the time being.
Here are my impressions:
1. Quick setup
The Streamium device worked right from the start. It took me less than 30 minutes to read through the manuals, set the device up, install the software on my PC and hook it up to the TV and the hi-fi stack.
2. Good sound and video quality
The quality of both audio (streamed MP3s) and video (streamed MPEGs) was quite good, no complaints here.
1. No playback control via PC
If you are accustomed to browsing through lists of thousands of items on your TV screen using your remote control, the SL400i may be alright for you. To me, the largest disappointment with the SL400i was that there seemed to be no way to control the device via the PC. Which means you cannot choose an album to play on your hi-fi by simply punching a few strokes on your computer keyboard. Instead, you have to painstakingly navigate your PC-based media folders using the Streamium remote control, watching the folder, album and song titles slowly change either on your TV screen or the in-built LCD on the SL400i unit. Very very inconvenient - especially for those accustomed to using Winamp or other well designed digital media player on their PCs at work or at home.
The only hope is Philips can remove this shortcoming through a software upgrade.
2. No support for Windows Media and MOV video formats
As noted by other reviewers, the SL400i cannot stream WMV and MOV video files - only mpegs. Again, it is probably a software limitation that could be solved through a downloadable upgrade - but at the time of writing this review no such upgrade was available.
3. No support for Winamp playlists
You can compose your own playlists with the Philips Media Manager, but you cannot import your Winamp playlists. Having spent many hours constructing Winamp playlists over the years, I do not look forward repeating the process with the Philips Media Manager. Having in mind that such a playlist import function would have been really easy and inexpensive to add to the Philips Media Manager, one can only speculate why Philips didn't see the need to accommodate 15 million+ Winamp users worldwide when designing the Streamium family of products.
4. Software clumsy and slow
The software you have to install on your PC for the SL400i to be able to access content on your hard drive (and which you also use to manage your content, form playlists, etc.) is java-based, which means really slow. It also seems to require a lot of system resources and a lot of time just to launch (and by default it launches automatically every time you boot your PC).
5. Adding media content takes ages
Adding media (photos, mp3s) with the Philips Media Manager takes a lot of time - and you are required to "add" the media before it becomes available for viewing or listening. For instance, adding a tree of folders with 6500 medium-sized JPEG photo images (1600x1200) took over 1 hour on my 512MB RAM, 2.5Ghz processor home PC. Aaarrgh.
6. Poor Wi-Fi connectivity?
I was using the included wireless adapter to connect my PC to the SL400i unit that was located just 5 meters away in the same room and almost in direct line of sight (except for a corner of a sofa :-) ). Despite these near ideal conditions, the signal strength rarely exceeded 50% and was indicated as "low" or "fair" most of the time, occasionally moving into "good".
This DID NOT influence the playback of MP3s. Video was another matter - DVD-quality mpeg's quite frequently froze for a second or two on the TV screen while playing. This frustrated the viewers a lot, even though the playback always recovered automatically afterwards.
7. Slow browsing of media folders
While browsing through the tree of mp3 folders on the TV screen, some folders took quite a while to display their content (5-15 seconds). Then some folders never displayed their contents at all - the SL400i seemed to just hang up while waiting for the song list to appear, and required a soft reboot (pressing the PC Link button) to recover.
8. Random disconnections
For a couple of times every day, the SL400i would loose connection with the PC while playing mp3s for no apparent reason. In such cases, the song continued to be played, but the next song never started, and I had to reboot the device to get the music started again.
I believe some of the frustrating issues described above could be solved if I went to the Streamium online user support forum and listented to their advice and suggestions, then made some configuration changes. The problem is I don't have time for that. My view is configuration problems should be fixed by the manufacturer, not by the customers.
- While I definitely need a way to get my MP3s played on my Hi-Fi, I'm NOT buying the Streamium SL400i. It is a first-generation product that could probably be called experimental, and it is suffering from numerous flaws.
- If you have a relatively small collection of music on your home PC (like up to 50 albums), don't plan to stream DVD-quality video and don't mind using your remote control to navigate your media collection, the SL400i might be just OK for you.
Otherwise, steer clear of it.
After uninstalling the Streamium software I was up half the night reinstalling my other devices, which remained clobbered after the Streamium was removed. Given that this system is going to be used by early adopters who are very likely to have other advanced I/O devices beyond a simple SoundBlaster audio card, I was disappointed to find that the Philips software was unable to coexist with other drivers.
As other reviewers have noted, the navigation is extremely clunky. When will someone make the audio controllable from the PC - the obvious solution to the problems of a TV interface? The online games seem to be missing in action. The included USB-connected wireless card supports only WEP encryption, not WPA, hard to understand in a brand new product! Finally, there was something wrong with the remote... It had to be within inches of the main unit to control the unit, which seems to defeat the purpose.
On the positive side, the video and photo connections were stable and video image and audio quality were both quite good. A number of mp3's would start to play, then abort, skipping to the next mp3. WMA audio is supported in the latest downloadable software upgrade.
My conclusion - avoid this unit. It's not fully baked. I returned mine for a refund.
The good news: I set it up in about 45 minutes and spent a Saturday morning with my wife and kids looking at pictures and dancing to music in our bedroom, where there was no music before. My wife ordered me to charge up the video camera, and all of a sudden, she *wants* me to spend time making content (playlists, movies, slideshows). My generally individual and quiet computing adventures have now been transformed into the source of group activities. If the grandparents were here, they'd be on it all day. If I had more time, I'd be watching movie trailers all the time. When the neighbors come over, I'll be showing it off. All of this is fantastic news, except for my sleep schedule.
The part of this that works best is the integration with content on the Internet. I am huge MusicMatch fan-all of my custom stations are right there in an instant.
The concept of this product is hard to get. You get this multimedia hub, but you also have to contend with a free, personal web portal to manage the Internet side of content (e.g. Yahoo!Photos, MusicMatch) called "My.Philips.com" and a piece of software for your PC called Philips Media Manager. Once you start navigating between these pieces, though, it's really cool.
The bad news:
So, this device has 4 categories of entertainment it bridges from PC to TV or stereo: Music, Photos, Movies, Games. One of the issues is limited file-type support. For example, there is no support for .wmv, .wma or .mov files for movies. That pretty much kills my home video efforts, as these are the only file types I have. Games are just little java games, but I'm hoping with the release of their java sdk, there may be some more interesting stuff.
Data entry from the remote (such as login info) is pretty Euro and a bit confusing. It's SMS-style, which I don't like. I wish it were Tivo-style onscreen. In my case, I made a password that was 5 letters and 4 numbers. When I got to entering the numbers, the first one was "1", but you have to hit "1" 4 times to get to the number 1. That stumped me for a bit.
Other notes of caution:
There are two things that make enjoying this device critical. First, use the wired connection or a flawless 802.11g wireless. Any hiccup at all in the connection ruins the experience. Second, use the television screen interface. The SL400i has it's own display, but it doesn't show enough info. The TV screen display looks like a Mac interface-beautiful.