A unique but pricey solution for getting your home wired for sound.
+ Probably the easiest way to wirelessly stream music from your PC
+ Great sound from a very compact package
- Streams all audio from your PC so you’ll have to turn your email alerts off
- Jaw-dropping price tag
If you want to listen to digital music around your house, there's always a compromise. Networking to another PC or internet radio won't offer the sound quality of your stereo and can be complicated to set up. Toting an MP3 player room to room on a dock doesn't let you play internet radio and probably compromises on sound, too.
So this device from Bose is music to our ears. It's wireless but it bypasses your network (you don't even need a network). It's simple to set up and features incredible stereo sound that'll easily fill a room. And it'll play anything you can play on your PC, from iTunes to internet radio.
Unpack the box and you'll be struck by the quality and good looks of this product. The speaker unit has a battery that promises at least 10 hours of play at regular volume and there's an orange warning light to tell you when it's close to running down. The device connects to the PC via a simple wireless USB stick - plug that into your computer, turn the speaker on and it'll take over your computer's sound. If you wish to add an external audio source, such as an iPod, there's also a standard 3.5mm socket to plug it into.
You can now park it wherever you want to hear your music. The range is excellent - we took ours down to the bottom of the garden and it still worked. The audio quality is also something else - Bose has put a lot of research into getting rich, powerful sound from small speakers, and this really has to be heard to be believed. The only drawback is that all your PC's sound is channelled through it, so if you keep your email software open, for example, you'll hear incoming messages arrive.
Ease of use
Perhaps the best thing about the Bose SoundLink is that it works straight out of the box. We didn't have to configure anything - just plug the USB device in and you're off. The supplied remote control, which you point at the speaker to control the volume, will also skip through tracks, even though the player software is running on your PC. The system supports both iTunes and Windows Media Player and works whether you're playing albums or playlists. If you use a different brand of media player, you'll have to control it from the PC, but even this is no great problem.
Value for money
There's nothing else quite like this on the market that we know of and the quality is superb. But it comes at a hefty price, and the thought of getting little change from £500 will probably leave most people slack-jawed. If you can afford it though, you certainly won't be disappointed.