Amazon.com Review Deciding how to offer a review of the third-generation Squeezebox by Slim Devices without gushing forth a stream of typical market-speak accolades ("Incredible!" "Outstanding!" "A must-have for any music lover!") is not easy. And even more difficult, given all that Squeezebox has going for it, is deciding where to start describing the wealth of features this little box boasts.
Squeezebox gives you full control over your entire digital music library. And it couldn't be easier.
From Digital Files to High Performance
Stereo level meters are a nice touch. View larger.
All the connections you need are on the back. See detail.
Although the tools to convert CDs to digital files have become standard fare on nearly every computer, by comparison the tools needed to play those files on a high-performance sound system can be clunky, inconvenient, and downright frustrating to use. Until recently, our options have been either to drag expensive computers to the living room and wire them directly to our stereos, or to buy an expensive digital music player that we then need to continually plug and unplug.
Enter Squeezebox to save us from this hassle. After plugging this streamlined device into your stereo via a standard RCA cable, and taking all of five minutes to download software to your computer and configure Squeezebox to your wireless network (okay, maybe seven minutes if you're chewing gum at the same time), you can immediately start "pulling" music off your Mac or PC for full-sounding playback through your entertainment system. Imagine being able to keep your computer on your desk, and your digital player in your pocket, and still crank your digital music with abandon! It's really that simple: within a few minutes of unpacking the Squeezebox, your digital files are yours for the asking from the comfort of your couch. (Squeezebox is also offered in a "wired-only" model that connects directly to the Internet via an Ethernet cable.)
Once Squeezebox is set up, it immediately presents your music on its easy-to-read display by genre, artist, song, album and even year. With the help of a handy remote, you can scroll through just about every music file on your computer and play songs in whatever sequence you desire. As long as your digital files are in a single location (in your iTunes folder, for instance), Squeezebox will get them to you. Although your computer must be on in order to play your digital files, you don't necessarily have to start it up just to play your music. Squeezebox also gives you the option of using the remote to wake your PC or Mac from a "sleep" state remotely, adding to the system's ultimate ease of use.
Squeezebox offers lots of setup options.
Squeezebox supports most popular formats, such as AAC (on Mac or Windows), and AIFF, FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WAV or WMA (Windows only). The sound quality is limited only by how well you burned your CDs in the first place, and by the performance of your entertainment system.
Surely there must be a catch, you're probably thinking. In fact, there are a couple of glitches that beg for improvement in the next-generation model.
First, while you can create play lists for Squeezebox on your computer via the software's browser interface -- a somewhat clunky procedure --, or with the remote itself -- an easier, though still time-consuming process --, Squeezebox could not access the play lists we had already created in our iTunes player. According to the manufacturer, only iTunes users suffer from this problem; Squeezebox recognizes lists created in Windows Media and other popular players. The second issue has to do with encrypted files. Simply put, it can't play any files you purchase or download from an online store, such as the iTunes Music Store, that are protected. For those files, you'll have to continue to resort to the primitive plug-and-play method.
Internet Radio without a Computer
In addition to playing digital files, you can use Squeezebox to stream Internet radio straight into your living room without a computer. Squeezebox feeds directly from your wireless network to do this. With the Web interface, or via the remote, you can create a list of your favorite Internet radio stations for streaming. Squeezebox also comes loaded with several stations covering the full array of musical genres, from jazz and world music, to 70's pop and 90's electronica. For news junkies, Squeezebox can also stream your favorite RSS feeds across its aqua blue display.
About the size of a bedside digital alarm clock, Squeezebox can sit inconspicuously on any horizontal surface. The ports, all located on the back of the unit, include a mini headphone jack, RCA connections, a digital optical output and coax output, and an Ethernet connection. An extremely intuitive interface on Squeezebox lets you easily configure the display's text size, illumination, screen saver, and track information.
Until the day comes when affordable entertainment systems exist that offer seamless convergence of wireless Internet and digital technology with high-performance playback, Squeezebox will let you share your digital music loudly and clearly with just a few clicks of the remote.
- A seamless way to stream digital music through entertainment systems
- Offers easy and remote access to all unencrypted digital music files on our computer
- Streams Internet radio through your receiver without a computer
What's in the Box
- Does not play encrypted music files from online digital services
- Does not recognize iTunes playlists
- Creating playlists can be time consuming
Squeezebox Network Music Player, AC power adaptor (appropriate plug by region), user's manual, SlimServer software (requires download), custom infrared remote (2 AAA batteries included), and 6-foot gold plated RCA patch cord.