Following the release of the original Noxon product about 18 months ago, Terratec has now developed the Noxon 2. This piece of kit sets out to handle your audio needs in different locations by combining features such as wireless technology, Internet radio and USB connectivity.
Constructed of white and silver plastic, the Noxon 2 has undergone a major design change from the original offering. While the unit looks rather smart, the introduction of a front mounted display panel will not be to everybody's taste. This display extends beyond the depth of the device so that, unless you position the Noxon 2 so that its overlaps a shelf edge or appropriate stand, it will not lay flat on a surface. However this sloped set-up does increase the visibility of the display. Overall the Noxon 2 measures 166 x 166 x 43mm (L x W x D) with the depth increasing to 79mm at the front.
A range of connectivity sockets are positioned along the back of the unit. There are sockets for both analogue and digital (optical) audio output. The former requires a HiFi amplifier or active speakers while the latter uses the S/PDIF protocol. You are given a choice of options for connecting to your home network system. You can use the supplied antenna, which screws into a socket and adds 30mm to the unit's length, or a wired link via an Ethernet port. Completing the rear-mounted sockets is a reset button and power connection.
Exploring a little further reveals a small compartment, initially concealed by a drop-down flap, on the right side of the device. This compartment contains a USB 2.0 port and a headphone output socket. The USB port can be used to connect any external storage devices that contain music you wish to access. Various VHS style control buttons and a navigation wheel are positioned along the top of the unit.
The Noxon 2 comes with a Wizard that leads the user through the process of setting up and linking to your home network when you first switch on the device. The various steps and options are displayed on the front panel screen while the appropriate selections can be made using the navigation wheel. The whole process of setting up the Noxon 2 with your home network should be completed quickly as you work through the intuitive stages of the Wizard.
To help with accessing your digital audio media on your home network, Terratec bundles the unusually named Twonkyvision software. Actually you can access your music, especially via the USB port, without this software being required. The Noxon 2 should be able to work with any UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) devices such as a network-attached storage drive. Using the controls on top of the device, you can stop/start and cycle through tracks with any available information being shown on the unit's screen. You also get a remote control for navigation, selection and adjustment purposes.
Locally stored music, whether in MP3 or WMA format, is not the only source available to the Noxon 2. It can reach out to the Web and bring the joys of Internet radio into your home. In partnership with vTuner, this Terratec kit comes with a wide range of stations already categorised and ready for your listening pleasure. Playback quality and radio reception (but I must admit to not checking out every station) was fine for my ears and should be more than satisfactory for the greater majority of users.
For ease of use and range of connectivity options, backed up by a reasonable manual, the Noxon 2 is a great way to enhance access to various sources of digital music. Price wise it might appear a tad expensive but by shopping around you might find it reduced from the recommended £149.99, but it's available for £124.90 from the first link :
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