Hunting Unicorns

Why is it so difficult/impractical/impossible to design a music server requiring no external control device such as a laptop or tablet? The Aurender A100H seems nearest to what I want -- onboard storage, USB output, no DAC, no volume control. But as I understand it, even this requires "iPad control via the Conductor app" and offers no access to web-based streaming radio stations. So, like many others posting here, I'm "wasting" a Macbook Pro as my digital music source, feeding USB to a streamer/DAC/digital preamp combo device. 

To rephrase: why can't I have just one box receiving everything from everywhere, and sending anything via USB to my favorite outboard DAC? Of course this unicorn WOULD have its own dedicated remote that is not itself a computer.

Advance apologies for what is very likely a dumb question generated by an ancient, analog-wired brain.
I agree and having access to streamers thru a web interface is not a bad idea... Have a look at the Lumen U1 or U1 mini... An iPhone, iPad or Android app is needed or Roon... I kind of like my U1 mini...
Roon has support for internet radio, streaming services and local files.

You can control your streamers via iPhone, Android as well as Mac and PC laptops. I use a hidden Linux box for the core, and a Raspberry Pi 4 (~ $180) as the streamer.

Right now the PC i am typing on has Roon for selecting music, but can do same via phone.
What is this streamer/DAC/preamp device you have? Doesn't the streamer part do internet radio? 
The current streamer/DAC/preamp is Cambridge 851N. It probably does wireless internet radio, but since audio is better from USB, I just use that for convenience since I need the laptop anyhow.

There are components that will do what you want except for the remote control as far as I know they all use an app on a tablet/smart phone/ computer or web interface to control the media. Might be something out there but I have never come across it.
erik_squires the hidden Linux box plus inexpensive streamer sounds good, but apparently you still need at least a phone. My unattainable object is something requiring no external multi-purpose device. From ddude03 above I gather that even Lumen needs your phone. 
If there was such a product I suspect the "remote" would end up looking like a tablet because of the amount of info that needs to be displayed. If you want the same functionality as a control app you either need a control app or a device that acts like one.
djones51 if you do come across it, please share. My dream product ;-)
Not sure what the OP is looking for. Most streaming services have tens of millions of tracks to choose from. How is one supposed to wade through all of that to choose what you want to play without some type of visual display? An old style remote gives no feedback about where you are in the selection process unless there is a visual display somewhere. That means you will either have to stand at the streamer to read the display, or it needs to be large enough to be read from across the room while you’re playing with the remote. Or, if the remote has its own display, you’re back to having the equivalent of a table or smartphone in your hands, albeit one that has no other function.

Most people already own a smartphone or tablet, and for those that don’t, a Kindle Fire is available for $50, or less if they are on sale. That is a drop in the bucket compared to what most streamers (other than the Raspberry Pi option) cost.

So we are back to this - what problem are we solving?
My unattainable object is something requiring no external multi-purpose device

Problem with that is the UI.

With a library, artists, internet radio of any size at all and a little appliance screen will not be enough.

If you don't mind going old school though, you could do a Logitech Squeezebox Touch or pi based clone.
I've had a Squeezebox Touch for about 10 years now and almost never use the touch screen, especially for wading through libraries to select music. It's a painfully slow process compared to using a tablet to find the music I want to play. My favorite aspect of the display screen is that it displays a nice clock when the SBT is not playing music. ;-)
jond I think you have supplied the answer. One can go smaller than a laptop, but not to the size of a slender remote. Shame on technological advance for failing to anticipate my needs! 
As have erik_squires and mlsstl now. Thanks to all. I wondered why, and now I know. Next question would be an affordably functional tablet control device occupying little space.

You can get a decent tablet under $150 and it should interface with any of these that have android. I use a 3 year old Samsung. 
Just be aware that if you go down the Lumin road that the interface works much better on iOS than Android. I have tried both and can attest to that.


Has anyone used the Aurender, and if so, what is your preferred control device?
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I have been using the Aurender N100H for a few years now and I use, and like, the iPad Air for running the remote app. It also supports streaming of some internet radio stations (18). If I were looking to buy a new Aurender I would go with the ACS100 as it has a disc drive to burn your CD's directly. I still buy CD's as opposed to downloading.

Good Luck!