The Lifestyle system is aimed at an affluent crowd of music lovers who don't want to bother with computer-based music jukeboxes like iTunes or RealPlayer. It makes sense, since a home stereo system typically delivers better sound quality than most PC setups. The system's individual components are impressive: in addition to storing 340 hours of music, it has a DVD player, luxurious surround sound and Bose's tiny JewelCube speakers. A $5,853 version, the Lifestyle 38, comes with larger speakers and a smaller drive that holds 200 hours of music.
Here's how it works: first you load your CDs, one at a time, into the CD player. It takes about five minutes to rip each disc and convert tracks into MP3s. Then each time you play a song, you can either mark it as a favorite (using the "+" button on the remote) or give it a thumbs-down (with the "-" button). The uMusic system stores your preferences, then creates customized presets that play songs you have indicated you like, as well as tunes from your collection that have a similar mood, melody or genre. It makes these calculations using a database that catalogs each song. If it guesses wrong, you hit the "-" button to skip a song and train the system.
Perhaps uMusic's biggest flaw is its lack of expansion options: there is no online interface for downloading songs, and you can't get a bigger hard drive. So unless you start deleting, once the drive is full, you're stuck playing the same old songs.