Evesham M-bridge review
In terms of quality, Evesham’s M-bridge is undoubtedly the closest challenger to the awesome Squeezebox. They’re the only two devices to offer VFDs (vacuum fluorescent displays), which are a vast improvement on LCD in legibility and viewing angles. With a 280 x 16 resolution screen, you’ll be able to use the M-bridge comfortably from your sofa, and if you have trouble reading the two-line text it can be expanded to fill the full height in a number of fonts.
You might notice from the photo that the M-bridge is essentially a rebranded Roku SoundBridge (now also supplied by Pinnacle in the UK), but that’s no bad thing. It can be connected to your network wirelessly or over 10/100 Ethernet, and there are plenty of audio options: optical and digital S/PDIF as well as a mini-jack connector, all discreetly concealed in the back of the sleek cylindrical body.
The remote control is a little small and some buttons would benefit from text labels rather than symbols; at one point, the device told us to press Menu, but the actual button has the “home” symbol on it. Still, the remote remains one of the most responsive of the group, and navigation is relatively simple thanks to the home and back buttons.
We were disappointed to see that WPA isn’t supported, though, so you may need to alter your wireless security, but we soon had it up and running with WEP, and it instantly updated its firmware. No software is supplied, but the M-bridge is UPnP compatible so you have a range of options. It can even be used with SlimServer, which adds Ogg and FLAC support to the standard protected WMA, MP3, AAC and AIFF.
The internet radio function is one of the most reliable of the group; you can edit your favourites – along with detailed configuration settings – via a web browser. Alternatively, any currently active feed can be added or removed from your favourites at the push of a button. You can browse stations by name, genre, location and even language; your PC’s music library is just as easy to navigate.
A basic clock or a variety of visualisations can fill the screen during playback, but there’s nothing else to match the sheer range of extras offered by the Squeezebox. But the Evesham M-bridge costs £42 less, so if your budget won’t stretch to the Squeezebox this is a great alternative for those wanting more style and quality than the ultra-cheap Philips can offer.