Review: Slim Devices Squeezebox

Stream any number of things wirelessly or wired. (November 16th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

ratingratingratingratingrating

Product Manufacturer: Slim Devices - A Logitech Company

Price: $249 to $299 US

The Good

  • Solid build quality. The display is really nice and very readable from a distance. Faultless music quality and streaming.

The Bad

  • Installation is a bit daunting. The manual doesn't explain wireless security connection well. Software not included and must be downloaded.

As I type today, I feel a bit more upbeat, because I am streaming music to a Squeezebox from Slim Devices. Squeezebox streams a music collection from your computer to your stereo system through your network using Ethernet or wirelessly. This review covers the wireless model. The Squeezebox does a lot more than just stream music from your computer; so let us take a closer look.

The nicely designed Squeezebox hardware is a mix of brushed aluminum and high gloss smoked plastic. You can choose a model with a white or black finish on the back. The unit comes supplied with a power adapter, analogue RCA audio cables, a remote control complete with batteries, and a printed user manual.

Set It Up

Slim Devices claims that the Squeezebox setup takes a few minutes, and as long as you read the manual, it is straightforward. It took me a bit longer. It is easy to physically connect, you just plug it into the main power supply and connect either the analogue audio cables or the SPDIF optical or digital cables. The latter type of connection has better sound quality. Next, you must download and install SlimServer onto your computer. SlimServer Version 6.5.0 supports Windows NT/2000/XP, Mac OS X 10.3-10.4, and Linux RPM. Although installation is easy, I experienced a spinning beach ball on my screen, where a progress bar should have been. The application installs as a System Preference. The start button launches SlimServer, but the first start-up takes a long time because the software scans your music library. Subsequent start-ups are a lot quicker.

Next, you configure the Squeezebox wireless connection with the remote control and instructions on the device display. This is where my second problem occurred. When I chose the type of security on my network, for example 64-Bit or 128-Bit WEP, I had to type in the long encryption key set on the router. The Squeezebox only supports hexadecimal keys and my router uses ASCII characters. Initially I changed my router settings to hexadecimal, which meant I had to change all my other devices too. A search on the Slim Devices support pages turned up an ASCII to HEX key converter. I changed everything back to how it was and converted my original key. It would have been nice to include this information in the beginning of the manual, rather forcing me to search for it online. After I entered the security settings, everything worked fine.

Listen to the Music

Once connected the Remote controls the music tracks. The gorgeous Squeezebox display shows the name of the track, duration, and other information. You can change the size of the display text and brightness. You can also display an animated graphic visualizer, to the right of the track name or faded into the background of the whole display. The graphics move in time to the beat of the music, which is a nice touch. Browsing the music collection is similar to the iPod interface and includes browsing by genre, artist, play list, folder, or search for a particular track. Music playback did not fail once and tracks did not skip. There was also no delay when moving from one track to the next.

Other Features

In addition to excellent audio streaming, there is easy access to numerous Internet Radio Stations. You can search by genre, type, name, popularity, or area. Quality again was superb, with no skipping or problems experienced. The Squeeze Network is yet another feature, which allows you to access Internet radio and news feeds, while your computer is off. You can even use the Alarm Clock and wake to great content without leaving your computer on. RSS news feeds scroll beautifully across the large display. Many feeds are pre-configured, but you can also add your own. While you can set up these services on the device itself, setting it up via the Internet is a lot easier.

powerful device control

The Web Access button in the SlimServer preference pane opens your Internet browser, where you can see what is playing on your Squeezebox, change the track and get useful information about your music. You can also set the play list order. The real power of this feature is realized when have more than one Squeezebox connected to your network. I was unable to test this, but according to the manual, you can connect any number of devices and control them all independently. Each one can play the same track, or you can set different tracks to play on each device. This is very useful for businesses like hotels, restaurants, or clubs, in which you can control different zones within a large building from the nicely laid out interface.

You want this

The Squeezebox works impeccably. This device appeals to anyone who has their computer in a separate office and wants to access their music library elsewhere. The extra features make it useful as an alarm clock and you can read your latest RSS feeds before starting your day. If you want very high quality music streaming, then the Squeezebox should be at the top of your shopping list.

Helpful Resource

WEP Key Generator - http://www.andrewscompanies.com/tools/wep.asp

by Dave Cryer


POST TOOLS:
toggle

Network Headlines

toggle

Most Popular

MacNN Sponsor

Recent Reviews

DoxieGo Portable Scanner

Sometimes, people need to scan things, but having a computer at hand to do so isn't exactly feasible. Maybe it's the home of a relat ...

Dell AD211 Bluetooth speaker

For all of the high-priced, over-engineered Bluetooth speakers in the electronics market, there is still room for mass-market solution ...

VisionTek 128GB USB Pocket SSD

USB flash drives dealt the death blow to both the floppy and Zip drives. While still faster than either of the old removable media, sp ...

toggle

Most Commented