Stunning design and innovative features make the Squeezebox extremely desirable, despite the price.
We saw it a while back but we couldn’t have a roundup without the Squeezebox. It may be dearer than most competitors, but the Squeezebox 3 justifies its $489 price in many ways. For a start, it’s the only one that would genuinely hold its own on the catwalk, and the huge 320 x 32-pixel vacuum fluorescent display will be visible across even the most spacious of living rooms. But it’s the incredible attention to detail that really grabs you: from the RSS ticker to the superb SqueezeNetwork features, there are almost endless possibilities.
Setting up the device is a doddle once you’ve installed SlimServer on your PC. It’s a bit of a pain that you don’t have the choice of UPnP servers, but SlimServer is constantly refined and has a massive online forum presence. Via SlimServer’s web interface, you can control playback and playlists, but it’s more useful for adding radio stations and entering the URL of any RSS feed you’d like displayed. This feed – unfortunately a little bit jerky at times – is just one of the many screensavers you can select, and there are several plug-ins available such as a sideways Tetris clone and support for podcast feeds.
The SqueezeNetwork is an always-on service that offers Internet radio while your PC is off, as well as a great selection of natural sounds. Falling asleep to the sound of a babbling brook is a relaxing experience, but you can even listen to the sound of a freight train passing if that takes your fancy. There’s also a sleep function, and if your motherboard supports Wake-on-LAN you can boot your PC using the Squeezebox remote.
But all this would be pointless if the basic music server function wasn’t any good, and thankfully it’s the best we’ve used. The freedom is immense: searching and browsing is simple, but it’s the extras like the Random Mix option that elevate it above the competition.
Since it has both analog and digital outputs, the only major weakness is the lack of support for DRM tracks, with the exception of tracks streamed from Real Networks’ Rhapsody service. If your library has protected tracks or you simply want a basic audio-streaming device, you should look elsewhere. But if you can afford it, it’s well worth the premium for the sheer quality and variety offered by the fabulous Squeezebox.
This Review appeared in the June, 2007 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing
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