Roberts Colourstream review
Its glossy black and rectangular chassis might not make it the most visually exciting speaker dock around, but the Roberts Colourstream has plenty of features that could win it a place in your living room and chief among them is a 3in colour touchscreen that makes it incredibly easy to use.
iPhone owners should feel right at home with its icon-based touchscreen interface, even if it does use a resistive display rather than a capacitive one. It looks a little dwarfed by the large speaker grilles and grey plastic bezel that surrounds it, but it’s still clear enough to read from several feet away. Despite using a similar design to other audio streamers we’ve seen, the Colourstream felt much more responsive to our inputs. Even typing wireless network passwords proved unproblematic.
If you connect a memory stick or external hard disk to the single USB port that’s hidden below the screen, you can play MP3, WMA, AAC and FLAC files stored on it directly through the ColourStream.
Unfortunately, there’s no AirPlay support, which means you’ll need to dock your iPod or iPhone to it to play your music without the help of a third-party App. There is, however, UPnP support, so you can access the files on a PC or NAS device using the integrated Wi-Fi or Ethernet port. It was quick to find and connect to our media server, but the sheer amount of files made it pause for thought once or twice.
Like other Roberts Audio products, the Colourstream includes Last.FM integration. This lets you log in to your account and access your favourite stations, artists and songs right away. You need to be a fee-paying subscriber to use the service, but new users can get a taste of what’s on offer using the free 30-day trial included with each Roberts Last.FM compatible product.
Its two 15W speakers elevate the Colourstream above many other sub-£200 iPod docks that we’ve seen, but only just. Considering the size of the system, we were expecting better acoustic performance, but in reality it was difficult to notice much difference. Although its volume was reasonable, it lacked bass and a rather crisp high end, but its sturdy build quality helped reduce sound distortion in comparison to some of the competition.
Considering that it costs the same as many other mid-range streaming iPod docks, the Colourstream’s in a difficult position. The Magicbox Beam has a very similar interface, and even though it doesn’t sound quite as good it takes up much less space on a coffee table or bedside cabinet. If you’re a die-hard last.FM user, the Colourstream’s extra functionality could swing it.
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