Squeezebox Digital Music Player Review
|Company Info: Slim Devices
Supported OS: Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP; Linux/Unix
Reviewer: Wayne Eggert
Date: December 23, 2004
I purchased the Squeezebox in February 2004 after searching high and low for a software or hardware solution that would simplify access to music in my house. I was looking for some type of visual interface. Initially I had found eJukebox software (http://www.audiosoft.net) and purchased a license to the software -- great piece of software, but much better suited for a touch-screen interface or a bar atmosphere. I needed something for my living room, something with a high G.A.F.(Girlfriend Acceptence Factor). I try not to bring technology into the house that only I will understand and use -- especially if it's something for the home theater or something that should be enjoyed by guests or family members.
At last! I stumbled across SlimDevices
I spent weeks and weeks over the course of several years looking for something that would fit my needs, and finally stumbled across the great software at Slim Devices (http://www.slimdevices.com). Their software is free and open-source.. and there's a great community of people creating plugins & making the software better & better every day. The greatest thing about the software was the web interface -- unlike my experiences with the eJukebox web interface, the SlimServer web interface allowed control of every aspect of the jukebox. I used the SlimServer software along with Winamp on spare computer I had around the house.. and could connect to the juke box through the web interface on my laptop.
But I longed for easier control..Enter the Squeezebox
Although the web interface was awesome, it still required me to be tied to my laptop to skip songs, play a different album, pause the music or change the volume -- and I had no simple way of viewing the artist/song info unless I loaded up the SlimServer web interface. The price of the Squeezebox seemed very high -- it took me a couple weeks to talk myself into it, but I had found myself in several situations over the course of those couple of weeks where I could see the usefulness of having the remote to skip songs or the LCD to show what was currently playing. So I purchased one!
What I liked
The Squeezebox arrived very well packaged and looked great out of the box. I got the wireless version, which is also wired.. though I've only been using it wired directly -- the 802.11b is just too sketchy to use when you're also transferring large files or streaming anything else on the network along with using the Squeezebox wirelessly. The Sqeezebox setup was easier than the software setup.. just plug it all in, let it search for the server running the SlimServer software and it's up and running.
What I didn't like
There's not much I don't like about the hardware. It's more of "What might be nice to see in future hardware versions". At times the screen can be hard to read -- if you use small text display, it's way too small to see from across the room, but if you use the large text display the artist/song info has to scroll and it's difficult browsing through tracks because the song info is often cut off. They have recently upgraded the vacuum display on the Squeezebox units.. so I believe there is now the ability to choose text sizes between both extremes which would be helpful. Sometimes the server software has crashed, but the most recent (as of this review) SlimServer 5.4 has been rock solid. The Slim Devices community is awesome and constantly working on fixing any bugs users find in the unit & also listening to suggestions of new features to add.
I know there are a lot of companies out there trying to integrate digital music into the home theater. I wouldn't touch any other product for the stability or simplicity of the Squeezebox. I have the same approach I have carried with hardware -- give me a device that does what it's meant to do extremely well, not something that can do 3 or 4 things badly. The future is digital media in the living room, and there will be a time that one device can be a PVR, music jukebox, photo gallery, web browser, video archive, and a game machine.. but we're still in the early stages of this technology and it will be a long time before something like Windows Media Center has all it's bugs fixed and works as well as some of these stand-alone products like the Squeezebox. If you're looking for something to simplify your digital music collection, the Squeezebox is the perfect solution. If you're looking for something more, go ahead and read reviews on products that try to incorporate music/video/internet and you'll quickly see that an all-in-one solution is not always the most elegant.
Final Rating: 5.0/5.0
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