Universal Remote Control has recently released its $399 PSX-2 personal server. Although I am a fan of the company I had not originally paid much attention to the PSX-2 or its predecessor the PSX-1. At first glance it appears to be yet another one of many, many iPod docks on the market. However, when you take a closer look it becomes clear that it is much more. Universal Remote Control provides its PSX Link software at no extra charge to be used with its line of PSX products. The software allows the docks to act as servers, streaming information that is stored on your network. The PSX server system is not as full featured as the dedicated Sonos or Squeezebox solutions but those servers do not provide the iPod connectivity of the PSX.
With the PSX-2 you can browse content, including cover art and video on an attached video display. The PSX-2's screensaver automatically displays cover art, artist & track information. A "Jukebox" feature allowed me to easily create playlists by including either entire albums or single tracks.
As you would expect from a remote control company the dock-server system is programmed to accept hundreds of discreet IR commands that make accessing your media much simpler. Users can perform alpha searches and pre-program buttons for one touch access (for example press a button and you go straight to your Coldplay tracks or even to a particular song). An unusual but useful feature on the PSX-2 is the "play more from" feature that allows you to press a button to play more from an artist or genre.Read about the high points and the low points of the PSX2 on Page 2.
• The media server functionality of the PSX system places it in another league from standard iPod docks.
• Even if you decide to use the PSX only as an iPod dock, the PSX-2's music management features and programmability makes it very easy to access and control your music and videos.
• In order to obtain the maximum functionality of the system you need to have the PSX Link software installed on your computer and the dock is now susceptible to any network outages that you may encounter.
• The physical configuration of the actual dock itself may limit placement options.
• The PSX-2 does not come with a remote, so in the small chance that you do not already have a remote, you will need to get one. I used one of Universal Remote Control's more basic remotes and was able to program it for the PSX-2 in less than five minutes.
The PSX-2 fills two roles with one unit, that of iPod dock and that of media server. As an iPod dock the PSX-2 does everything you would expect, it can be connected to your network anywhere you have an Ethernet connection. Where the PSX-2 excels as a dock is that it also allows for extremely easy access to your media. You no longer have to scroll through huge lists to get to what you want, you can now simply key in what you are looking for through an alphanumeric interface and go straight to your music. Universal Remote Control's interface is well thought out which makes the use of the PSX-2 a pleasant and painless experience. A component video output also lets you watch your videos, although you are limited to the resolution of your iPod.
In addition to the iPod dock functions, the PSX-2 acts as a basic music server allowing you to locally access media stored on your computer network. Unlike most dedicated media servers it does not offer internet radio or internet music services unless you access them through an iPhone/iTouch application. Nonetheless, I was very pleased to have an iPod dock that didn't limit me to what was on whatever iPod was in the dock and would let me access all of my media stored on my network.
The killer application for the PSX-2 is when it is installed with the server software and a 2-way capable remote such as the Universal Remote Control MX-5000 or MX-6000. With an install like this you can browse and access all your available media right on your remote, from any location within wi-fi range. In a world flooded with iPod docks the PSX-2 stands out with its innovative features.