Published on December 20th, 2005 | by Greg0
Free Your Music
Your music collection is on your computer. Your stereo, with your nice speakers, are in another room- probably with your DVD player and television and Xbox 360 (you lucky ****).
The answer is simple. Buy a Squeezebox. We don’t mean that you “could” buy a Squeezebox- we mean it as an instruction. Because our reviewers unanimously praised this little device in many different directions. The concept is pretty simple, and some might not find it useful, but for those with a large music collection on their PCs and another place they’d like to play it, the Squeezebox networked music device is, simply, an answer to prayers.
OK, so we’ve hyped it up. It’s sleek, about the size of a trade paperback book. Inside is a super-bright display, optical and RCA outs, an ethernet bridge, and a wireless connection. You install the server software onto your computer, a breeze if you use iTunes, and if you have a wireless connection the Squeezebox will be able to use your music collection like it was stored on the unit.
Almost. It can take a while between songs, while the next song is streamed. But that’s about the only trouble we found- installation and setup was fairly easy (though their software can be a resource and bandwidth hod). The music sounded great, with no distortion or lag. There are plenty of plug-ins available: you can get internet radio, weather reports, RSS feeds. And the software runs on Macs, PCs, even Linux boxes. It’ll play MP3s, of course, but it’ll also playback your tunes in FLAC, WAV, AIFF, OGG, WMA. We tested it with a few routers and didn’t have any trouble, though it can’t handle all forms of encryption.
Our testers’ other main complaint was, of all things, the remote. It’s a pretty simple remote, with no backlighting, and it would’ve been nice to have some sort of lights or textured buttons for use in the dark. Oh, and remember that you kind of need iTunes- nothing else works nearly as well.
One other neat thing is that the unit can serve as a wireless bridge. This means that you don’t need to worry about hooking your Xbox 360 up through some expensive unit, or dragging cables- just plug it into the Squeezebox, and it’ll connect wirelessly. If you don’t have a wireless router, it’s almost worth buying one so you can use the Squeezebox- $250, available online now.