Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Squeezebox Boom

After visiting a friend in New York a couple of weeks ago and playing with his Slim Devices (nee Logitech) Squeezebox Classic, I just had to have one. I just wished they had one with speakers- the place I want to put it doesn't have a stereo handy. A quick visit to their website shows the new Squeezebox Boom- perfect! Clickety-click to Amazon, and it's on the way...

Fast-forward to last night, when I "To My Desk"'d it from my EarthClassMail account and ripped the box open in the office to set it up for a late-night coding session. Right out of the box, I was enamored with the build quality- it's got a beautiful black enamel finish with really clean lines, and it feels quite dense for such a small device. Lots of little niceties like the magnetic remote "dent" in the top of the unit and the sleep/snooze button on top in case you want to use it as a hella-spendy clock radio. Plugged it in and had my SqueezeCentral account created and the device on the network within a couple of minutes. I went for the wired connection at the office- didn't even try the wireless, since our office wireless network security doesn't play well with a lot of devices. I didn't set the local server up (that's for home), so I was just playing with the built-in internet services. There's quite a bit of content available for free- even more if you're willing to create accounts and link them up. I was pleased to see the "local radio" option- it shows you all the internet streams of the local radio stations (all my favorites were on there), as well as allowing you to browse around the world right on the device.

I had pretty low expectations for sound quality. The device was kinda spendy ($279), but not enough of a premium over the speaker-less Classic model's $199 price tag to set my expectations very high. Right from the start, I was blown away. This thing sounds great! It has great mid-bass response from a pair of 4" speakers- the low end is "as expected" (eg, not going to rattle the windows out with sub bass-y goodness), but they do provide a sub-out if you're worried about it (I'm not).

I've seen the device UI described as "fiddly", and I'd have to agree- it takes a bit of getting used to, and the navigation isn't terribly friendly unless you know the whole sequence (as well as whatever nagivation the radio service you're using provides too, since they're all different). Things also work a little differently via the remote than using the wheel. It is more or less consistent, though, once you get used to it. My wife had it figured out within a couple of minutes and was having a blast with the "artist search" stations on the Slacker service.

We're both musicians, and yet there's not a lot of music around the house most of the time. Hopefully this thing will make it easier for us to have music around the house wherever and whenever we want.


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