By July 23, 2010

Logitech Squeezebox Radio Review

IMG_1171 Radio technology started with just that – radio waves. Now though, newer ways of delivering radio station content have been developed, with DAB digital radio paving the way, and now internet radio. Digital radio is still yet to invade people’s homes, but internet radio with its added features, could be the advancement that old-school radio buffs have been waiting for.

The Squeezebox is one of a growing range of available internet radios – ones that stream stations from the internet. The benefits include better sound quality without that notorious analogue hiss, and a much, much wider selection of radio from around the globe to listen to. So, internet radio is all well and good on paper, but whether this particular internet radio from Logitech is really capable of replacing your battered FM radio in practice is the one question that’s probably in your mind, and luckily for you, is also the one that we’re about to answer. Read on to catch our verdict.

What’s in the box?

  • Squeezebox Radio
  • Charger with UK and European socket pins
  • 3.5mm line-in audio cord (for external input)
  • Quick start guide

 

Logitech Squeezebox Radio specification:

  • Audio formats: MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, HE-AACv2, Apple Lossless
    Other formats supported through transcoding
    Some formats may require additional software installation
  • Internet radio: Support for MP3, Ogg Vorbis, HE-AACv2 and WMA formatted Internet radio streams
  • Wireless interface: Built-in 802.11g (802.11n and 802.11b compatible) wireless
    One-touch setup (with compatible WPS-supporting routers)
    Supports WPA Personal, WPA2-AES, and 64/128-bit WEP encryption
  • Ethernet interface: Connects to any 10/100 Mbps Ethernet network (with Auto MDX)
  • General: 6 cm 24-bit colour LCD
    Ambient light sensor to adjust display brightness according to environment
    6 preset buttons allow one touch access to favourite radio stations and playlists
    Alarm clock with 7 days of settings
    Line-in via 3.5 mm stereo jack
  • Speakers and amplifier: 2 cm high-definition, soft-dome tweeter and 7.6 cm high-power, long-throw woofer
    Bi-amplified class D design with digital electronic crossover
    3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
  • Additional options sold separately (available March 2010)
    Rechargeable battery pack
    Infrared remote
  • Dimensions (H x W x D):
    13 cm x 22 cm x 8.5 cm
    From front edge of knob to peak of curve on back surface

 

Highlights

  • Easy to use, user friendly UI
  • Decent sound quality
  • Add on apps and social networking
  • Wireless music streaming from PC
  • Screen

 

Lowlights

  • Internet only – no AM/FM
  • Long boot up time
  • 6 preset slots
  • Battery pack not included

 

General

On the front, the left half is occupied by a (mono) speaker and the right half has the 2.4″ colour display, two control knobs, and heaps of buttons.

front

 

The right hand side contains only a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the right has nothing to speak of.

left

 

The rear has a recessed carry handle, as well as ports for power, Ethernet, and audio in.

back

 

Review

The Logitech Squeezebox internet radio aims to streamline all your music and radio needs into one device, and from the spec sheet, I reckon it can do exactly that. It’s capable of tuning in to a wide selection of radio stations from around the globe, all the way down to streaming your own music from your computer. Let’s start from the very beginning; initial setup.

Turning on the Squeezebox for the first time initiated a setup wizard, guiding you through the functions and how to use it. It finds your wifi pretty quickly but entering the passkey is the first hurdle. You use the larger wheel to scroll through the alphabet one character at a time which is incredibly slow, but luckily you only have to enter this once – even when unplugging the Squeezebox for a lengthy amount of time, your wifi passkey is remembered. Once connected and at the main menu, it’s a breeze to use. There is a list of all the things you can do, including a little applet store, where you can download and install addition mini applications for your Squeezbox. These are very few and far between, so don’t expect an Apple style app store but the ones that are there are all useful and decent. The Facebook add on allows you to view your friends status’ and updates and also check out photos. This is probably more of a gimmick really than anything else (a phone is much easier) but at least it’s there. Last.fm is probably my favourite app available at the moment – the tailored music really brings out the possibilities of internet radio and it adds another dimension to an otherwise ordinary internet radio.

Finding a radio station is also a painless experience. You can view your local stations or you can search for stations in other countries. The search feature I found to be more of a hassle than manually finding the station you’re after. Scrolling through lists (which is how the interface works essentially) is made easy with the large scroll wheel, and is quicker than entering text into the search box, which also returns results which can be sometimes unreliable – searching for BBC Radio 2 returned 8 results, none of which were what I wanted. However, navigating to local stations, I could easily select and listen to BBC’s Radio 2, which wasn’t listed in the search results. Then, when searching again to check, there it was, the ninth result – this is a bug which should be fixable in future firmware updates though. Apart from that, the OS seems quite stable and fast. The menu system is well thought out and everything is just where you’d expect it to be.

When I finally started playing Radio 2, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of sound from the built in speaker. Songs were clear with no distortion at higher volumes, but a stereo speaker would have been a nice addition. Your mileage may vary slightly on the quality because of the bitrate of your radio station, but playing a song through the line in confirmed my findings – the sound was rich and both bass and treble were good. It is not quite as loud as other sound systems, but for its size it’s acceptable and you’ll probably never need more than full volume.

The Squeezebox has one of the best displays on an internet radio in its price category – it can display photo slideshows which really show off its brightness and contrast. It’s competition generally roll with displays such as a two-line monochrome display, and the 2.4″ unit runs rings around these. There is no apparent colour banding and the viewing angles are much better than what I was expecting – Logitech have certainly exceeded expectations on the display front.

The Squeezebox also has a bedside standby mode with a clear display of the time and date that automatically syncs with the internet, and an alarm with options for a particular station to wake up to, customisable for each and every day in the week. The standby mode does leave the speaker on so there is a tiny hiss. It’s very faint, but still noticeable in the night and may be a problem for light sleepers. The alarms seem to be stored online and so without an internet connection, it won’t work. You can’t access the alarm menus either when disconnected from the internet – why they can’t be stored locally on the Squeezebox itself is a mystery. In fact, the Squeezebox becomes quite crippled without an internet connection; line -in and settings are pretty much the only things you can do. My broadband connection is not connected at the moment and it would have been nice if Logitech had integrated a FM radio so I can continue to enjoy using it- but it’s just another speaker without a connection. Even so, it’s not really a deal breaker when you consider that you probably have a radio already and you’d only buy an internet radio if you actually have access to internet!

 

Conclusion

The Logitech Squeezebox was designed to take all your radio and music needs and shove it all in a convenient easy to use package, which would also look good enough for you to want to place it on your kitchen windowsill or lounge table. It certainly does all of that, centralising your tunes and stations into a modern jukebox that you can place anywhere in the home. Even if it does take 40 seconds to turn on, it makes up for it with an excellent interface similar to the iPods famous user friendliness. It is a shame that the battery pack or the remote is not included, but even without these the Squeezebox radio is a solid device, deservedly one of the best most rounded internet radios around.

 

Review by: Vince

Post Tags: [Logitech Squeezebox Radio, Internet Radio, WiFi Media Player, tracyandmatt.co.uk]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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