Squeezebox 2 Digital Music Player Review
Since I've already reviewed the first-generation Squeezebox I will focus only on some of the improvements listed above that I have found useful.
True 802.11g networking
First up is an upgrade to the wireless card (if you choose the wireless option). As anyone who owned a first-generation Squeezebox knows, there were often buffer issues with operating on an 802.11b network. If you were not downloading or transferring anything else on your network, you could maintain a nice stream from wirelessly connected jukebox PC.. however the network quickly became saturated if you added any other data transmissions to the mix. The 802.11g card solves that dilema perfectly and was a much welcome addition to the Squeezebox 2. I personally still use a wired connection to my jukebox since it was already in place from my first-generation unit, but it's nice to know there won't be buffer issues if in the future I move the jukebox PC out of proximity of the Squeezebox.
New greyscale vacuum flourescent display
Beautiful display. The first-generation unit had only two text sizes to choose from, but the new unit has many more sizes available and supports great looking fonts. This was definitely one of the features that sold me on the upgrade and it did not disappoint.
Stunning animations, transition and visuals, spectrum analyzer
I gotta say, now that I've had a Squeezebox with a spectrum analyzer I would not want to go back to one without it. It definitely adds to the cool factor and since I've been a long-time Winamp user I'm used to seeing the spectrum analyzer at all times. The animations are neat, but I think are more for games and screensavers which I don't use very often. Obviously the display is much more capable in terms of resolution and refresh rate than the first-generation units.
This is a great addition for anyone that has a video game console or some other device that is right next to the Squeezebox 2. It allows you to hook a device up to the wired port on the Squeezebox and share the Squeezebox's wireless connection with that device. With the way I have setup my network I don't have a need to bridge the connection like this, but it is definitely a great idea that would save some people money and my hats off to Slim Devices for thinking of building something like this into the firmware.
The SqueezeNetwork is still in its early-phases as of the date of this review, but essentially it's an always-on network you connect your Squeezebox to and can use it independent of your jukebox PC. You can connect to online radio streams, use the alarm clock feature and connect to RSS feeds without having to leave your jukebox PC on all the time.
Crossfading between songs
Yet another feature from Winamp that I was definitely missing. Crossfading allows you to customize the overlap of the current song and next song so there's a more professional DJ-esque quality when songs change. It works wonderfully well and allows you to customize crossfad settings or turn it completely off.
Faster 100Mbps wired ethernet interface
The 100Mbps wired interface seems like it would come in handy for large uncompressed or lightly-compressed audio files.
There are many audiophile features that Slim Devices has added into the newest generation units, but I cannot comment on these since I'm not much of an audiophile. I still use the RCA jacks, since most of the music I had converted from CDs on the previous unit was compressed. Sometime when I have some extra time to kill I'll try ripping some of my CDs to FLAC or a similar low-compression audio format and see how much of a difference the digital outputs make over the analog outputs.. but for compressed music I was not noticing any difference on my system.
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