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Polk Omni S6 wireless speaker review: Play-Fi hardware is still hobbled by Play-Fi software

Theo Nicolakis | Aug. 17, 2016
This speaker's price tag, sound, and feature set are appealing enough, but it's all undermined by a distinctly mediocre app.

The DTS Play-Fi app is no cure for Sonos envy

Using the Omni S6 requires a DTS Play-Fi compatible app. You can download Polk’s Omni App or you can use DTS’ own Play-Fi app. Apart from different graphics, there are no functional differences between the two. There are versions for Android, Kindle Fire, iOS, and Windows, but there is no MacOS version.

I won’t mince words here: The apps stink. I never once loved using them. The user interface is Play-Fi’s Achilles heel. When you first open the app, for example, you’re shown all the available music sources. There’s plenty of room on the hardware display to fit all of the supported music services’ icons, but the app inexplicably splits them across two screens, leaving the bottom third of the display blank and forcing you to swipe back and forth to see all of them. That’s just silly.

The functionality of the Play-Fi button in the lower right corner depending on the screen you are on
Theo Nicolakis

The functionality of the Play-Fi button in the lower-right corner changes depending on the screen you’re on—that’s a poor user interface design.

When you access any of the music services, it’s unclear now to get back to the main screen. For example, there’s no main menu or consistent way to get back to a “home” view. In theory, you do so by clicking on the tiny DTS Play-Fi logo in the lower-right corner. Good luck with that. It sometimes brings you back to the home screen, other times it will show you just your connected speakers. Why? Still other times, you click the logo and it takes you back to your previous screen, finding yourself caught in a frustrating loop.

While you attempt to get yourself out of your own personal Ground Hog Day, you’ll eventually discover that clicking on a really small music-note button (another element that materializes in some places but not others) slides out your music sources. But now they are in a horizontal, single row. I could go on and on, but I won’t.. The good news is that it’s just software—it can be fixed. If DTS intends to take on Sonos in the multi-room audio market, it should throw out this version its app and start from scratch.

Polk Omni S6 wireless speaker features DTS Play-Fi.
Polk

You can adjust the Omni S6’s volume using its front-panel buttons or with the Play-Fi app.

Music sources

Unlike a Sonos system, you can stream music to Play-Fi speakers from any Windows application (Foobar2000 anyone?). But you’re dependent on the Play-Fi app if you’re using a mobile device. On the bright side, devices in the Play-Fi ecosystem can also connect to any DLNA server on your network, and the app can stream music from more than 10 online services, including Amazon Music, Spotify (Spotify Connect, for premium subscribers), Tidal, Rhapsody, Sirius XM, Pandora, and internet radio (Sonos, to its credit, supports many, many more services—including Apple Music).

 

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