Most PC users have large music libraries, that they've either downloaded or ripped from their own CDs, but find they have no real way of playing that music on anything other than their PC's speakers. Microsoft's solution is the Media Center PC, an expensive and unwieldy sledgehammer to crack a relatively small nut.
What most people want is a simple bridge that links the PC upstairs to the hi-fi downstairs, with the minimum of fuss. Apple might have been one of the first companies to do this with AirTunes, but now it's time for everyone else to have a go. Step forward German Audio experts Terratec, with the Noxon2.
The concept is simple: the Noxon is a small unit with both wired and wireless capabilities; and a small LCD screen, which can stream music from your hard drive, or connect to Internet radio stations.
It's relatively easy to set up and we even managed to work out how to enter our WEP encryption key without referring to the manual. The only problem we ran into was that our firewall was preventing the Noxon from being discovered by the software.
In order for the Noxon to know where your music is stored, you need to install the TwonkeyMusic software. Then you can browse the folder directory of your PC, using the Noxon's remote and screen.
You can connect the Noxon to your amplifi er using either traditional RCA phono inputs, or via digital optical TOSlink. Hidden under a sliding flap on the right of the unit is a headphone socket and USB host port, for connecting memory sticks or removable drives.
So what's not to like? Well for some reason known only to Terratec, the screen on the front is twice the depth of the rest of the unit. Consequently, you either have the unit sat at a 45 degree angle, or you need to hang it over a shelf.
In addition, the remote is simply horrible: it feels cheap and it wouldn't have hurt to label some of the functions, rather than relying on obscure icons. Having said that, it does the job with aplomb.