Given Philips’ vast experience in AV products, it’s odd that the SLM5500 looks more like a wireless router than a serious piece of AV kit. And since the remote uses infrared rather than RF, you’ll have to put the box near your TV.
On the rear, you’ll find SCART, component and coaxial S/PDIF outputs, with a switch to change between the video outputs. The only way to obtain analogue audio output with component video is to buy a SCART adapter, as there isn’t one in the box.
Turning the box on for the first time, you’re greeted by a setup wizard to step you through connecting to a wired or wireless network, with a choice of WEP or WPA security. You’ll have to create a user account to use the internet services, which include radioIO, Live365 and BlueBeat for music and BornToShoot, a slightly strange library of travel and nature images.
The SLM5500 is intended to be used with Windows Media Connect, and therefore supports the audio and video formats that Windows Media Player does. If you have DivX and XviD codecs installed, you can stream these formats, too, although our XviD movie wouldn’t play at all. The WMV-HD video kept pausing as the SLM5500 rebuffered, making it unwatchable. There’s no way to play files locally, since there’s no hard disk, USB port or media-card reader, but you can attach an Ethernet cable to the RJ-45 port at the rear.
Menus are easy to navigate and responsive, but it’s a shame album tracks are listed in alphabetical order and our album art thumbnails weren’t displayed. Format support is a little limited, but WMA-DRM files can be played, of course. Photo slideshows have no effects or transitions, but you can browse shared folders to find the images you want in addition to searching by date taken, keywords or ratings.
The Philips’ main problem is the ZyXEL, which boasts a better selection of outputs for the same price. This also has a USB port for playing files locally, and played our XviD file with no problems. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi, though, so the SLM5500 may be a better choice if a network cable is out of the question.
This Review appeared in the March, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing