The MC-i250 has a full complement of front-panel controls and a six-line front-panel text display that's readable from up to approximately six feet away as long as you're not off-axis or in a room with bright sunlight. The respectable, midsize remote control has a four-way keypad that facilitates straightforward navigation of menus and tracks, but it lacks Page Up and Page Down keys. As a result, the only way to skip around in track lists is by using the alphanumeric keys, which are less convenient in some situations.
As far as microsystems go, the MC-i250 boasts an impressive assortment of drivers. Each speaker has a 5.25-inch aluminum-cone midbass driver, a 1-inch cone tweeter, and a 5-inch top-firing woofer with a slapstick name: wOOx. Philips rates the system power at a respectable 50 watts per channel. Individual treble, bass, and wOOX controls allow customizing the sound to your favorite musical styles.
Unfortunately, the MC-i250 doesn't have any digital audio jacks. It does include a stereo analog input and output, as well as an output for connecting an optional subwoofer.The Philips Streamium MC-i250's file-format support is quite limited. Although the unit plays MP3 and MP3Pro files, it doesn't support WMA files. Like many digital media receivers, it doesn't support rights-managed (DRM) files, such as the AAC files you'd purchase from the Apple iTunes Music Store. The AM/FM tuner automatically programs its 40 presets. The built-in CD player handles both audio and MP3 CDs. Unlike Philips's far pricier Streamium MX6000i HTIB, this unit uses Gracenote's Internet database to retrieve and display album information, such as track titles, when playing an audio CD. To play PC-based audio files over the MC-i250, the PC where the files are stored must be on the same network as the receiver and be running the Philips Media Manager application.
The MC-i250 supports a wide array of free and fee-based Web music services, which you configure at the myphilips.com portal. Selections include the Andante on-demand classical music service, Playhouse Radio (for children), RadioFreeVirgin, Launchcast@Yahoo, Live365, and Musicmatch. Only Andante requires a subscription ($10 per month), whereas optional Musicmatch and Live365 subscriptions provide access to perks such as a larger choice of stations. Users can play individual, nonaffiliated Internet radio stations by plugging specific URLs into their MyPhilips.com account.