on October 5, 2012
This is more than just an Internet radio. Out of the box, it will play internet radio with thousands of stations available, no setup required beyond connection to your home network, usually Wi-Fi though a port for wired Ethernet is available too. Find a station you like, press a preset and it is saved.
Sound quality is mono, but surprisingly rich and deep, thanks to separate woofer and tweeter and the usual high quality of the Squeezebox system.
Squeezebox system? This is where you need a little background. Squeezebox was originally a system for streaming music from your computer to one or more players around the house. It was extended via plugins to support internet radio and more. A great system, but users found it too complicated, or Logitech thought that they did, so the Squeezebox brand seems to have been abandoned.
It lives on here, though in simplified form. You can download the UE Music Library and install it on a PC or Mac, whereupon the Smart Radio will automatically find it and list your music collection as My Music. Supported formats are MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and Apple Lossless. Album artwork shows up on the 2.4 inch colour screen.
The UE Music Library is none other than the old Squeezebox server, though cut down so that features such as plugins, playlist, and remote control of players are missing. This is annoying.
Worse still, there is no compatibility. The Smart Radio cannot play music from an existing Squeezebox server, and an old Squeezebox cannot connect to UE Music Library.
While that sounds bad, it is not as bad as it seems. You can install the UE Music Library alongside a Squeezebox server, and it automatically sorts out the ports so it can run side by side and stream the same music collection. Although it is a shame to lose features, the new system does require less configuration, and retains its most important feature, which is to let you play music anywhere in the house.
You can download a remote app for iPhone and Android that lets you control your Smart Radio, selecting stations or tracks and albums from your music library. Search is easier on the remote app than with the rotary controller on the Radio itself. No iPad support yet, which is a shame.
You can also log in to Logitech's cloud service, where you can add services such as Spotify, Live Music Archive and Last.fm, though note that most of these require a paid subscription for full access.
The Smart Radio makes a neat 7-day clock radio. When in standby it shows a clock with date and time, and you can set alarms to sound only on selected days. Oddly, the alarms can be managed on the internet - I have a suspicion that this means you will not be woken up if your internet goes down. If on battery, the unit will turn itself off to save power but turn itself back on just in time to play the alarm.
Physically the Smart Radio is very similar to the Squeezebox Radio. However, the Smart Radio comes with a 6-hour rechargeable battery included, which is handy; this was an extra before. If you don't need the battery, the old model may be better value.
There is also a hidden feature, an infrared receptor. Point a Squeezebox remote at the unit and it works, though no remote is supplied and since it is undocumented I guess this feature might disappear in later production runs.
As a long-term Squeezebox enthusiast I came to the UE Smart Radio expecting to be disappointed, but was pleasantly surprised. It is still a slightly quirky system, but the added ease of use made me understand why Logitech has chosen to remove some features. You no longer need to select between a local and internet server, making it less confusing, unless for some reason you have multiple Music Libraries installed on the network (and why would you?).
There are a few things I would like to see. There is no line out other than the headphone socket, and I would prefer a fixed output for connection to a hi-fi system, especially if the other Squeezebox players disappear. I also find the controls non-intuitive at times.
Still, look at what you get. Physically the Smart Radio is great, well made, with a beautiful black gloss finish. Sound is excellent. And you can still play your small or large home music collection as well as connecting to a huge range of Internet radio stations and other music services. It may seem expensive, but once you appreciate the capabilities on offer it is good value.
Update: Logitech has now added the ability to convert the software in UE Smart Radio to Squeezebox Radio so you can choose which you prefer.
on October 4, 2012
I had the Grace Mondo for a couple of months, and while I liked it, I feel the Logitech UE Smart Radio outshines the Mondo. The first thing you notice is how much faster the Smart Radio is. From connecting to the wifi to clicking through the menus to actually connecting to the stations. It's noticably faster in all areas.
The other thing that stood out was the clarity. Playing Pandora and Live 365 seemed to be much clearer on the Smart Radio than the Mondo. Not that the Mondo was bad, but my ears noticed the difference.
Both have iphone apps to control the radio, that is really nice. The Mondo app lets you turn the radio on and off, while the Smart Radio app let's you control volume. It would be nice if both did both.
One thing the Mondo has over the Smart Radio is the EQ. Put it on classical setting and you will get some booming bass. The Smart Radio does not have an EQ.
All in all I do like this over the Mondo, but again, I really didn't have any real issues with the Mondo. I just think the overall sound and smoothness of the Smart Radio gives it an edge.
on October 16, 2012
After getting tired of dealing with FM static, I decided I wanted to try an all-digital solution. A Bluetooth speaker for my iPhone was my first idea, but I find Bluetooth to be kind of fiddly and annoying, so I started looking at dedicated Internet radios. I debated between the Grace Digital Mondo and the Logitech Squeezebox Radio (this radio's predecessor), and at first I went with the Grace Digital because it advertised iHeartRadio support -- meaning that I could listen to my local Clear Channel stations. (I've since come to find out that the Smart Radio supports Clear Channel stations as well, through the TuneIn app.) I was mostly content with the Grace Digital, but it was kind of unsatisfying in a visceral way. The physical box itself isn't the most beautiful thing in the world, and the software is somewhat unrefined. Nothing that is a deal-breaker on its own, just lots of little odd quirks and raw edges.
In contrast, the Smart Radio feels smart and polished. It's smaller but has a pleasant heft, probably due in part to the included battery. The software is nicely designed, with a more modern aesthetic than that of the Mondo. Sound quality is good but not extraordinary, though it does cope with heavy bass better than the Mondo, which tends to bottom out at higher volume levels. Compared to other small-speaker radios I've heard in this price range, it's about average, and of course it's much better than your standard clock radio.
Setup is fairly easy, although my unit did, disappointingly, crash once during the process. Once you connect to your network, you can listen to radio right away or optionally sync with the online component of the system. Almost all of the functionality of the radio is done by connecting to third-party services, and, if you want, you can enter account credentials for those services on the Smart Radio website. If you do, all of your favorites and "likes" and whatnot are shared across all of your mobile devices and computers. All live streaming is done through TuneIn, so the radio can pull down all of your favorite stations from there. Audio podcasts, too. Interestingly, TuneIn on the Smart Radio can access Clear Channel stations, unlike on iOS devices.
Local music playback is handled by a small service that you install on your computer. It's simple and unobtrusive: on the Mac, there's no persistent UI at all. It starts up a background process, scans your iTunes library, and then retreats to a preference pane. The Mondo uses DLNA, which on the Mac requires wrangling with all kinds of open source packages and codecs and engines and runtimes. (It's a simple checkbox on Windows, though.) I did have a few problems with stability here, too. The radio occasionally chokes and freezes on some of my music files, most of which are 256 Kbps MP3s or AACs. I haven't been able to notice a pattern, and it doesn't seem related to network bandwidth. Hopefully this can be addressed in a software update; a popup after the first time this happened asked for permission to send a crash log, so Logitech should be aware of the problem.
Aside from the rare stability issues mentioned above, the radio is a real joy to use; I practically haven't stopped listening to it since it arrived. I'm consistently impressed by all the little touches and refinements I keep finding. For example, on the Mondo, if you try to pause a live stream, nothing happens, and if you press stop, it unhelpfully and cryptically declares "Feature unavailable for this service." On the Smart Radio, the pause button works just fine, buffering the live stream until you're ready to resume. Another nice touch: it senses when you plug in the cable for the aux jack, and automatically switches to that input source. No fiddling with menus.
As for remote control, the official solution is to use the free smartphone app. It's okay, but not great. It's prettier than the Grace Digital app, but less functional and a bit buggier. The Grace Digital also comes with a nice IR remote, unlike the Smart Radio. Interestingly, though, as mentioned in other reviews, the Smart Radio does respond to old Squeezebox remotes. Unfortunately, it seems that you can only get these bundled with a Squeezebox battery, which is already included with this device. I'm not sure what Logitech's plan is here. The IR window is actually visible from the outside of the device, so I'd be surprised if they ever silently removed it from this model. Perhaps someday they'll release a remote as a separate purchase, but until that happens you can make do with a universal remote. The first remote I tried didn't have built-in codes, but the Logitech Harmony One does. I'll bet the Harmony 200 does as well, and it's a fairly inexpensive solution. For me, I plan to use the Harmony One to "teach" a spare universal remote. A surprising amount of functionality is exposed, though it's poorly mapped in the default Harmony configuration: power, volume, mute, menu navigation, home and "now playing", shuffle, all six presets, sleep, and quick access to the favorites, playlist, and search menus.
All in all, this is a great device. It's not without its flaws, but they're minor and I'm confident that they'll be worked out in time.
on November 8, 2013
I was very disappointed when Logitech discontinued the Squeezebox Radio. This UE Smart Radio is effectively the same device with a different firmware and software. Many Squeezebox users have performed a manual "downgrade" given their disappointment with the UE radio. I am sure there are others that prefer the UE Radio. The pros and cons of each are given on the Logitech website. The manual "downgrade" being used was really designed only for tech-savvy users.
To their credit, Logitech has now recognized that many in the community prefer the Squeezebox version and have now built the "downgrade" directly into the software through a menu selection.
The price of this radio ($99 including the battery) along with the knowledge that the "downgrade" was menu-driven, was too much to pass up.
I purchased it and converted it to a Squeezebox Radio immediately upon receipt. The conversion was smooth. I had no issues. The Radio has been working flawlessly for a week and I am confident that it will continue to do so.
Another Squeezebox added to my collection. Excellent device at an unbeatable price.
I bought this radio for two reasons -- one, to get my NPR fix without the all-too-frequent fundraiser interruptions, and two, to listen to my favorite stations clearly in the boonies, where I live. On both counts, I am very pleased.
The radio is all plastic, but well built. Setup was easy. It was just plug in, set up the wireless network, and go. I was listening in under five minutes. The remote control app worked well on my Droid Razr. However, for some reason, it had trouble with some features on an LG Optimus, running Android 2.2. The app also works well on the iPad, though it is not a native app (its an iPhone app).
The TuneIn radio directory is well organized, and allows easy access to local and international radio stations. There are other directories available, though I never felt the need to use them. My favorite FM stations also broadcast on the Internet, so I can listen in high fidelity, without the crackles that come with distance.
What's missing? Bluetooth for one. This would be a superb radio if it was also a bluetooth speaker. Sadly, they chose not to include this feature despite the fairly high price. The second feature is the ability to access Amazon Cloud Player or its Google equivalent. I believe it can still be done through a firmware upgrade. It would also be nice to have a tone knob to increase/decrease bass.
If you like listening to radio, you will enjoy this device. While others have complained about setup, I found it very easy and quick. The sound is good and it is simple to use.
Update: its a month and a half since I purchased this. I still love it just as much. Battery life is surprisingly good, and so are the sound and network performance. The price has now dropped further to make it very competitive with other radios that don't come with a battery. Unfortunately I notice one glaring omission as well: you cannot add streaming URLs. So, if you like a streaming service that TuneIn does not carry in its directory, you are out of luck. I am sure they will eventually fix their software to add in this feature, but its a disappointment right now.
on February 7, 2013
I managed to get the UE Radio up and working. Sounded great and I had full Radio connection with a multitude of stations. Excellent sound. BUT, suddenly I have no Radio at all..even the Radio button on the menu has vanished. I called Mexico City (location of customer support) and was guided thru re-booting TWICE. Finally, the service person checked and found out that the SERVER was down and I should wait 48 hours. Still waiting.... Anyone else experiencing this issue?
UPDATE to this post (Feb.23): the Radio has not gone offline since my original post. Working fine. It's been a learning curve, mostly trial and error. Spotify works well 80% of the time (and sounds great), although if I toggle between radio and My Music and Spotify, sometimes the unit just freezes or sound output stops. When it works it is such a damn pleasure and such a great techie toy! I do notice that if my iMac is "sleeping" then My Music and Spotify often won't boot. One frustrating aspect of Spotify is that some songs that play perfectly on my computer will NOT play on the Smartradio; a message appears saying that "this song is not available in your area." What?? I can play it perfectly on the computer but 20 feet away in another room it is not available?! Overall, I think I'm hooked on this fantastic little hi-fi beauty. Add another star to my review.
on October 26, 2012
The local radio station we listen to in our kitchen in the morning and at dinner moved its transmitter, and we were getting only static on our clock radio. We had a choice between buying an HD clock radio for about $100, or spending a $179 on this. I am glad we spent the extra money.
This "radio" is awesome. If nothing else, it streams a very wide variety of local radio stations in our area, as well as stations from around the country and around the world for no fee. We also signed up for Pandora, and have set up "favorites" of genre stations with very little advertising, and, again, no fee. Since we have XM radio in one of our cars, we can stream the stations on this as well, which makes it that much better. The radio brings a whole new world of options to us.
For day to day use, I cannot imagine a better system. It is very easy to set up. Signing in to our secured wifi was simple. Finding the local radio station streams, also, was simple, and then playing with and listening to streams from around the world is great fun. The pandora system (I have not tried the other free services) is also great. I have not tried the streaming of my own music from my computer - - I don't need it as I'm happy with the variety on the services.
The sound is great, and the interface is just about perfect. We were not looking for stereo, just a kitchen radio, and the speaker is loud and carries enough bass. We also have unplugged it and carried it around the house using the battery. So long as it is within wifi range, everything is awesome.
I also like that the setup is relatively "sticky" so that once you set the presets and favorites, they will stay, so our kids will have a hard time changing them. The smartphone app is also great (although it's only made for phones, and it looks a little goofy on the ipad).
I guess there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- It's not a real radio, so while you don't get any static, you also get nothing if your internet or power for your router goes out (so keep a backup radio and batteries around).
- Signing OUT of pandora and then signing in with a different user is difficult. You need to go to the web page for the radio (not the iphone app) and do it there. Once you realize that it's really only made for one pandora subscriber, this becomes a non-issue.
- Sometimes the difference between hitting "back" and "home" can be confusing on the menus, but you get used to that.
- Although there are only six "presets" there seem to be an unlimited number of "favorites" so I actually use those more often.
In the end, this is as close as it gets to a perfect internet appliance, as far as I am concerned. It doesn't try to do everything, but what it does do, it does in an excellent manner. It's a luxury but it is very very nice, and far exceeds what I thought it would be.
on September 25, 2012
My friend had the squeezebox, and highly recommended it, and it just so happened that the weekend I was there they announced the new Smart Radio. I pre-ordered and received it today. There were a lot of complaints on the squeezebox forums about them taking away functionality, but so far it's met all my needs.
1) To be able to stream music in multiple rooms wirelessly
2) Be able to play music separately, or synced
3) Connect that music to a 'media server' (ie my laptop with a disorganized collection of mp3s)
4) be able to play pandora or streaming radio (before hearing about the squeezebox I didn't think this existed)
It met all of these conditions. Setup was a breeze to configure my laptop, cell phone, and 2 smart radios (less than 10 minutes).
I like how it detects local radio stations that have online streaming so the only need I'd have for a regular radio is mlb games which are blacked out on streaming (angry!). There's a few talk radio shows I like to listen to and didn't even think about how this would make it easy.
1 thing I was hoping to be able to do, was to play and sync from my laptop and cell phone so there would be one less box I'd have to use. Of course then that's one less unit they'd sell so I guess I understand why they wouldn't do that. Having the battery will be useful for taking it out of the office when i'm done working for the day (I work from home), although I might just buy another power cord. The battery seems almost useless when you need to have it be in your wireless network range, but I guess it will help when entertaining and want to put it out of the way or take it outside and not worry about plugging it in.
Another big concern of mine is how many connections my wireless router can hold, but right now I have 2 laptops, a cell phone, and 2 smart radios and everything runs fine.
I'd recommend it to my friends for sure.
on November 16, 2013
When Logitech came out with the UE, I, like so many others, was disappointed to find that our squeezeboxes were now "stranded technology." You couldn't use UEs with your existing squeezeboxes unless you "upgraded" (i.e., crippled) the squeezeboxes and your squeezeserver software. The economics tell the tale: old-style squeezeboxes are now selling for 2x-3x original retail while the price of the UE has dropped in half, and an underground community of jailbreakers sprang up to unleash the Squeezebox hidden inside every UE.
Well, hooray, Logitech has finally seen the light and offered an option to "sidegrade" (I won't call it a downgrade) the UE to a Squeezebox. It's right there in the Advanced Settings menu. I ordered two of these because at $99 including battery, they are a steal compared to the original squeezebox radio. Just received them and immediately converted one of them to Squeezebox, and it works flawlessly with my existing infrastructure (a squeezebox touch serving the music off of a USB stick, and the Squeeze Commander android app to control it all remotely).
If you have a lot of investment in squeezeboxes and were dismayed by Logitech's apparent abandonment, depair no more! Highly recommended!
I am a huge radio fan, and I'm not talking about AM/FM radio. Internet radio is amazing! There are thousands and thousands of radio stations around the world that you can listen to, as well as many music services that link you to whatever type of music and genre that you want to hear.
Enter the Logitech UE Smart Radio. I was considering other options, but when this replacement for the Squeezebox was announced, I bought. The UE is extremely simple to set-up and easy to operate. There are many music services available that you can easily add to the device. My favorite is Tune-In Radio, but others available are Pandora, Mog, Sirius/XM, SomaFM, Slacker, Live365; the list goes on and on. You can also link your personal music library to the device and play your music on it.
Navigating the color on-screen menu is fast and easy. The radio allows you to program several alarms and there are numerous sounds that you can choose; or, just use one of your favorite stations. The screen shows you which station is playing, and the song scrolls across the screen. The sound is pretty incredible for such a small device. The bass is well-defined and projects well. Unlike other Internet radios, the UE Smart Radio comes with a pre-installed battery, which allows for portability of the device from room to room.
Lastly, there is a free app that you can download to your phone that acts as a remote. You can program your favorites, and there is no need to point your phone at the radio. Response is instantaneous, with no lag time when selecting a station.
If you are considering an Internet radio and are undecided on which one to purchase, I highly recommend the Logitech UE Smart Radio. You may find similar devices at a cheaper price, but they do not include a battery, which actually makes this one less expensive overall. This package is put together well and offers unlimited choices of music and portability through your WiFi connection. Turn off the TV and experience radio again! You will be pleasantly surprised.