Build Quality and Setup
The Qsonix Q100 system came in two boxes - one for the server and one for the touchscreen panel. Frankly, I was a bit surprised at the choice of interface. A 15" touchscreen? I kept looking for a remote - nope. The Q100 server is substantial in weight and Spartan in appearance. There are three lines to the left of the power button which is centered on the face of the unit. When powered up, there is an illuminated blue ring around the power button. On the right side of the front of the unit is the CD drive that would be invisible except for the white label on the door and open button. The unit is constructed out of brushed aluminum - the face plate being of noticeably higher quality that the rest of the unit. The unit is held up by 4 round black plastic feet. The touchscreen is seemingly rugged and wear resistant. Using the touchscreen felt natural and I never feared that I might damage the screen. The bottom of the frame is constructed of a dark grey plastic that doesn't exactly match the color of the rest of the frame and the server unit (not a problem as you'll soon read). There are buttons on the unit to modify the output of the display (similar to just about every computer monitor I've ever used) and to power on and off the display. There is also an "auto-calibrate" button which my 3 year-old son liked to press. This didn't seem to hurt anything and only took a second to run.
Setup - General
The unit comes with a short manual including setup instructions. Really, it isn't that hard. Connect the power, connect the touchscreen with two different cables, and connect the unit to your receiver. I chose the coaxial out rather than analogue for zone one and analogue (no digital option) for zone two. You then connect the server to the network via an Ethernet cable. Easy.
Upon powering up for the first time, you are led through five setup screens. You are asked to set date, time zone, that sort of thing. As long as you have the unit connected to a router, it should link up via the automatic connection easily and quickly (it did for me). The unit does not recognize other computers on the network nor can it access any other stored music. If you plan on using the coaxial output, you'll need to enable this after the initial setup. If is easy to do from the Advanced Settings under the Playback menu.
The only real problem I noticed at this time was the volume of the fan. The unit has an integrated fan to cool the unit. From a bit of a distance with music playing it wasn't very noticeable but the fan never shut off (from what I could tell). Once I switched sources, I immediately noticed the fan and had to power down the unit to disengage the fan. If you are planning to place the server in the room with you plan on placing it in some sort of cabinet - preferably far from you. Fortunately, if you plan on relocating the unit Qsonix offers optional equipment that will allow the screen to be placed up to 600 feet away from the server. The only other option is to shut the unit down completely which will require an approximate 60 second startup time when restarting the server.