Over the last couple years, I’ve become quite the fan of Logitech’s audio products. The Z515 is still my favorite personal desktop Bluetooth speaker; mine sits on my desk at work, and pairs up with my iPhone whenever I want music delivered clearly and cleanly. And one of their older iPhone dock speakers has made the perfect AirPlay audio device in our game room when paired with my younger son’s discarded iPod Touch. So I was interested when they offered me their new Squeezebox internet radio device to try. Could it replace my AirPlay setup, alleviating the need to run everything from my laptop in the GeekDad workshop (aka, the garage)?
The short answer is yes. It does a great job.
The Squeezebox is actually a very interesting piece of home audio, successfully bringing streaming internet radio into the form factor of a slightly retro countertop-sized box meant to replicate the look and feel of a quality analog radio of decades past. But the important part is that the interface, accessed through a 3.5″ color screen and smoothly-turning control knob, pulls together the chaos of accessing the huge volume of internet sources into an accessible and easy-to-use menu.
As with most internet-enabled devices, the most challenging task is setting the thing up to access your home wireless network. For anyone who has had to enter their 14-character WPA-2 password into an Apple TV more than once, you know the pain of accessing letters and numbers without a full keyboard. The Squeezebox makes it work as smoothly as any such device I’ve tried, letting you spin through the characters with the big control knob. And that’s a good thing, because after getting it up and running on your wi-fi, you’re going to want to add your Pandora, MOG, or other internet music services as well, which will also need logins and passwords.
On the other hand, internet radio is all about the easy access to every possible sub-genre of music you can find, and finding stations is pretty easily accomplished. A few of the good internet radio networks are even represented with “apps” that you can load. My favorite, SomaFM, was quickly added. Indeed, speaking of “apps,” the one other device I was quickly reminded of when playing with the Squeezebox was the Chumby One. However, where the first-gen Chumby was an enthusiast’s device with sluggish touch-screens and hit-or-miss apps, the Squeezebox seems to do less (much smaller app ecosphere at this point), but better. Everything about it — the solid construction, attractive design, and quality sound — says “I am a well-polished consumer device.”
There’s a program you can add to your home computer to allow access to your whole music library. And there are apps for your mobile phones (iOS and Android) to turn then into remotes. Really, the Squeezebox does the one thing you want any such device to do: seamlessly integrate into your home, and make using it easier than any other solution. They’ve done a good job of making it useful.
The Logitech Squeezbox comes in black, white, or red, and has an MSRP of $149.99, but you can find it for a bit less at Amazon and other retailers.