The growing popularity of digital music hardware through portable MP3 players and PC systems with powerful sound cards and speaker output is obvious. But the convenience of digital music is yet to have a significant impact on home entertainment systems, where the CD is still the audio format of choice for most Australians. This set to change rapidly with products like the Onkyo NC-500 Net-Tune Client on the horizon. The NC-500 is a compact stereo unit that provides access to your digital music collection through either standard wired or Ethernet local area networks (LAN), so that MP3 and WMA files can be accessed and played from anywhere in the house.
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Because it has the "look and feel" of a conventional stereo unit, the NC-500 will appeal to members of the household not comfortable using a computer interface. Up to 12 Onkyo NC-500s can independently access music on the network simultaneously without interfering with each other. Seperate units can also be linked to play the same music and Internet radio stations are avialble via networked DSL or cable modem.
Connections for an external CD player are included along with a standard built-in AM/FM radio and the NC-500 can also be used as a source component for a conventional stereo so that it can be used in conjunction with existing stereo units.
The Onkyo NC-500 with Net-Tune PC software costs US$500 with speakers and $400 without speakers.