Our Verdict 
The MCi500H has great features and decent sound, but it’s still not the finished article
Good looks and great display
simple and well-featured network-integration
CD ripping
spacious sonic delivery
Music Broadcast mode is limited
MP3-only ripping is disappointing
bass is a little over-cooked
Reviewed on

The humble micro system is in danger of becoming extinct. To survive, it needs to evolve into a future-proof, all-encompassing music system – and that's just what Philips has done with the MCi500H.

The stylish unit boasts a big LCD screen for track information and the speakers are reassuringly chunky. But, of course, it's the spec that matters most, and here the '500H comes up trumps.

Not only can you rip CDs to the 160GB hard disk, but you can link the unit to a network for streaming audio from a PC and accessing internet radio, and connect USB devices. You can also have up to five zones in a multi-room system.

Music, come follow meAll very nice, but the highest quality format for ripping CDs is 320kbps MP3 and the process takes a while. Playing with multiple zones is also a bit disappointing, with the system refusing to skip forward or back in ‘Music Broadcast' mode.

However, ‘Music Follows Me', which sees the sound jump across zones, is handy.

More after the break

Sound quality isn't bad, either. Music is big and bold, with plenty of weight and spaciousness. True, the bass is a touch flabby, but this is a pleasing, party-rocking delivery.

When you consider you can add a second unit for a total cost about the same as Sonos' superb BU-150, the MCI500H starts to make sense