Hey folks, Valkor here. At last year's Pepcom events and even CES 2010 this year, I had the pleasure to hang with the reps of Logitech (Always a pleasure). And while I only got the chance to simply give their latest device, the Squeezebox Wi-Fi Radio, a quick once over as it wasn't playable (WI-Fi signals at such events are pretty lousy), my chance to check it has come as the Squeezebox has arrived in the Val-Cave. And it's seriously rockin my world!
The Squeezebox from its initial appearance looks like an alarm clock radio (and it actually can function as an alarm clock). But upon closer inspection you'll see the buttons and knobs don't coincide with any clock radio I've ever laid eyes on. On the right side you have your forward/backwards buttons, a play and a pause button, finally on the bottom right there's your power. On the left you have a home, alarm, more and back buttons. The bottom left knob is for the volume and the big button in the is for inputting letters, numbers, symbols, etc in the browser, plus you can use it for tuning into stations, etc. Just about every button serves a second function and though it might seem I'm making it more complicated than it is, trust me it's really quite simple – from the moment you turn on the device to when you're setting up apps or tuning into your favorite internet radio station, you'll find working your way through the Squeezebox a simple task But I'm getting ahead of myself). Smack dab in the middle is a full-color 2.4" 24bit LCD screen and on either side of that are pre-set buttons to connect right away to your favorite stations. It's very compact so you can place it on a countertop, desktop, anywhere without it getting in the way.
But before you dive in and start rockin to your favorite tunes, you gotta connect it first and the Squeezebox Wi-Fi hooks up two ways – either Ethernet or… well Wi-Fi (using 802.11g/n/b) and it'll work with your secure connections too, so don't fret.
And that's the heart of the Squeezebox Wi-Fi radio – you have a slew of apps to choose from. Slacker, Rhapsody, Napster, ShoutCast, Pandora, Podcast (listen to your favorite podcast without having to startup the PC) and more are all at your fingertips. Once you sign-up for a squeezebox account, you'll be able to link your favorite radio sites to the device. You can even link it to Facebook to share and recommend music to your buds. Plus you can check out yours or your friends pics and having them playing in a slideshow while the music is playing. Or travel around the world tuning into your favorite internet radio stations.
For this test, I linked the Squeezebox to my favorite Internet radio station, Slacker, and set it to my fav "Hits - 80's, 90's, and Today", also connecting to my Facebook account using my friends pics as a background slideshow, though I could have left it on the Slacker player and I'd get some sweet album art, I'd rather check out some of the cuties I'm friends with. So after a full weekend of Val-Cave testing, how did the Squeezebox Wi-Fi Radio fare?
I am happy to say the Squeezebox passed, almost with flying colors (more in the bad section). First up audio quality is freakin fantastic! True there's only one speaker, but that one speaker spits out some serious sound. The bass and treble are just right and the audio is crisp and very clear; you can make out all the words and even at full blast it doesn't distort and completely fills the room; no need to mess with the settings, this baby is ready to go right out the box! The size is perfect, no matter where I put it, it maintained its connection and very discreet except for the screen. The LCD is quite nice, though not very sharp, it gets the job done and images display beautifully. But most important of all, the Squeezebox is easy to maneuver right through. Seriously, no instructions needed on getting it initially setup, though you need it to know that you'll have to log into the website from the PC and the device. Once that's done you choose your apps through the website and you don't have to bother logging into the website from the computer as you'll control everything from the box. So with the device set to Slacker and my favorite station, I can just set it, forget it, and enjoy listening to my favorite tunes. Now all I need is a Grooveshark app and it's go time!
But Val, listening to online radio is great, but what about my own music? How can I hit up my playlist? Well that's as simple as downloading the Squeezebox server software and you'll be streaming your tunes in no time. Set up only takes a couple of minutes and once your finished, you just select My Music from the Squeezebox radio and start enjoying your music (with album art), which streams seamlessly from your comp to the device. Yes you can also do iTunes, so no you're good in that respect and even play your iPod/iPhone or other media device through the Squeezebox. Nice!
Remember I stated you have to sign into the website from your computer AND the device in the initial setup, right? Well if you have a complicated email account such as MegaXXgranaPLAXAvarty@qwirkyemailandyou.com and password, you'll be sitting there with the Squeezebox in your hand for a hot minute plugging all this into the device. I think the simplest way to set this up would have been to use the serial number to remotely link the device to the website. But you'll be glad to know that once you've done this, the device will remember all your info and it will be update when you update from the site. And thank the Matrix, you don't have to log into your Facebook account through the Squeezebox (or any other website that requires youto login) – you can do that through the Squeezebox website and you're automatically connected through the device.
Overall Logitech's Squeezebox Wi-Fi radio has won a place in my heart and I'm sure if you take it for a spin you'll enjoy it as much as I. Not only does it look great, it sounds awesome and it's very easy to use, with just a small hurdle to get over. But once you're past that, you're on your way to pumping great sounds throughout your home or cave. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give the Squeezebox Wi-Fi radio 4.5 stars and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!