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Philips MT2000 Digital Home Solution desktop review

A networked home without the hassle

Our Verdict

A good idea, but needs a few tweaks to reach its true potential

Heard about this networked-home malarkey and fancy having a go, but can't be bothered to piece the bits together yourself? Well, then you're exactly the type of person Philips has in mind for this networked-home package. For your money, you get one of the new Philips PCs, a Wi-Fi router, a USB Wi-Fi adapter and a wireless media streamer that plugs into your telly.

We'd expected something a bit special in terms of styling from Philips's new PC line, but unfortunately the model here has a slightly tired-looking design. It's not exactly a grey box, but it's not that far off, and in many ways it feels pieced together.

For example, the wireless mouse and keyboard rely on a receiver you plug into a USB port. This seems pretty archaic now that most big-name PCs come with the receiver built into the case. The speakers are also cheap-sounding and generally naff.

Nevertheless, there's plenty of grunt under the bonnet. A 3GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of memory and a relatively meaty ATI Radeon 9250SE mean the machine isn't shy when called into action for bouts of Half-Life 2. You also get a dual-layer DVD rewriter and an analogue TV tuner.

For media-type things, the PC employs CyberLink's Power Cinema software. You can use this to watch and record TV, view pictures or DVDs and listen to music. The interface is bright and airy and the menus are easy to follow, but it's not as slick as Sony's VAIO Zone or Microsoft's Media Centre.

The computer part of the package may be distinctly average, but Philips has done a much better job on the networking front. The supplied router is easy to set up, and the PC and the SL300i media streamer are already configured to connect to each other over Wi-Fi. The SL300i is impressive and it handled our MP3 and DivX movie files with ease. You can even use it to stream music videos from the Net. The only downside is that it doesn't play WMAs.

This set-up shows off just how good Philips's network streamer range is, but it's let down by the slightly untidy PC component. In its current form, it's a good media-streaming package, but with some tweaks on the PC front, it could have been a great one.