One day, a while back I was checking my stats over at last.fm and saw a banner add for the Squeezebox Boom (now made by Logitech) and thought it was a pretty nifty little device. At first you think its just a simple net radio that lets you tune in internet radio stations, but it turns out that its far cooler than just that. On a whim, I added to my Amazon wishlist. I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up under the tree at the in-laws.
The unboxing was nearly as nice as an Apple product. Easily recyclable cardboard packaging, sensible documentation, and nice drawstring travel bag for the unit itself. A nice touch is that the small (but functional!) remote docks on top of the unit magnetically (similar to Apple remote on an Imac.) The setup was pretty easy; just plug in the AC adaptor, install the Squeeze Center software on my host mac, and dial in the access password for my wifi network. No surprises, and everything worked right the first time through.
My primary intent for the radio was to have something away from my computer to play my vast MP3 library. The Squeezebox does that pretty well. It provides a reasonable interface to search by artist, album, and track. The Squeeze Center software was able to suck all my tracks out my iTunes catalog without much trouble, though it did seem to chew up a lot of CPU for about 20 minutes.
The Squeeze Center runs as its own webserver on your host computer. You access it on port 9000 (think that’s tunable.) From its interface, you can configure options on your Squeezebox hardware and completely remote control it. That sounds kinda weird at first, but I frequently find the specific album I’m looking for in the easy online search, then just send it over to the box to start playing it. That’s more because I have to squint to read the Squeezebox’s display from across the room; stupid eyes.
The other feature that caught my eye on when I was checking out the spec’s originally was the ability to have it scrobble your listening to last.fm. For a stats junkie like me, this is a pretty nifty feature. Its also a gateway into the other super cool internet features. Besides being able to play any Shoutcast online radio stations, it also plays last.fm stations (tags, personal stations, and recommendations) and Pandora. Both of which add a lot of interesting set it and forget it options that let you queue up a bunch of good listening with minimal effort. It also has its own collection of online stations. I was delighted to see that it included KPIG, a favorite station out of Freedom, California.
After seeing how good the interface and software were, I was a little pessimistic that the sound quality from the unit’s speakers would be a kind crummy. I was quite surprised that the sound is actually quite decent. Its definitely not something that you would mistake for a Bose Wave Radio, but, far better than other boxes the same size. Its also plenty loud; in my small office at home, I rarely put higher than 25% on its volume scale.
All in all, I’m very pleased with my Squeezebox. It wasn’t what I would consider cheap, but after playing around with it for a few weeks, I’m thinking the price is pretty reasonable. Looking forward to many hours of happy listening in the near future and finding more hints and hacks to make it even better!