SBWM In Use
The SBWM sports a "find remote" button, which makes the remote beep, much like how you go about finding your cordless handset when it's under the couch cushion. This button is also used for assigning an RF remote to a receiver, used mainly if you've got multiple Wireless Music units and want to control them all with a single remote.
The only other information available from the SBWM itself is via LEDs that let you know if the unit is connected, rebooting, or in standby. The rest of the functions have been transferred to the remote, which sports a 1 inch x 2 inch LCD screen.
Figure 13: SBWM Remote's screen
The RF remote is pretty beefy, in part because of the large LCD screen. Perhaps Creative wanted something big enough to fend off crazed roomies trying to wrest control of the music selection (the thing feels like it's got to weigh at least a pound). At first blush it looks like the screen uses a cool electroluminescent blue, but it is a backlit LCD. The screen is easy to read, using non-fixed fonts that make the most of its 132 x 64 pixels.
The remote is used for doing everything from browsing the MP3 and WMA (the only formats supported) tracks in your library to starting and stopping play. And while RF means not having to point directly at the Wireless Music receiver, you do have to be within 33 feet (10M) of the receiver to get any real use out of the remote. There are also 9 buttons that can be assigned to play "favorites" playlists that you create
For those of you wondering about 5.1 surround, you are pretty much out of luck on both units, which only support stereo output. However, Creative would be happy to sell you some speakers with Creative Music Surround Sound (CMSS), which upmixes stereo input to 5.1+ channels.
The SBWM does not publish specifications about the size of its onboard buffer, but I found that under normal operational conditions, the unit typically pauses for about 1 to 2 seconds between songs.
TIP: Upgrading the firmware and software with newer versions available on the Creative website is a must. After upgrading I did not experience problems that plagued the unit and caused it to pause during playback.
The SBWM has only an internal antenna and I found that at a range greater than 30 feet, displayed a propensity to increase the time required to move to the next song. This appears to indicate that the receiver had auto-negotiated to a lower transmission rate and as a result required more time to buffer the audio data.
I also found there was an increase in the time required for the remote to browse the playlist data at longer distances. Like the Squeezebox, the SBWM lacks a way to manually adjust the wireless 802.11b transmission rate.