Judie: Last year Julie Strietelmeier and I took a look at the Logitech Squeezebox Boom, both here and on The Gadgeteer, and our general consensus was that we both enjoyed using it. As a matter of fact, I liked using mine so much that I eventually sprung for a streaming Sirius subscription as well as a Pandora Premium membership. I wrote about the Logitech Squeezebox Radio when it was first announced, mentioning its compact size, a 2.4″ color display, Facebook connectivity, and a seven-day alarm clock. Although I put in a request for a review unit, I didn’t hear anything for months and I had basically forgotten about it. And then one day, there it was sitting on my front porch … waiting.
Julie: I actually ended up giving my Squeezebox Boom away. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy using it, but that I went through a gadget cleansing phase last year to clear out Gadgeteer HQ and it was one of the items that I felt I could live with out. Funny thing is that as soon as I got rid of it, I missed it. 😉 So I was super happy when the Squeezebox Radio showed up unannounced on my door step.
Audio formats: MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, Apple Lossless (other formats supported through transcoding, some formats may require additional software installation)
Internet radio: Support for MP3, Ogg Vorbis, AAC and WMA formatted Internet radio streams
Wireless interface: 802.11g (802.11n and 802.11b compatible), Supports WPA Personal, WPA2-AES, and 64/128-bit WEP encryption
Ethernet interface: Connects to any 10/100 Mbps Ethernet network (with Auto MDX)
Display: 6.1-cm (2.4-inch) 24-bit colour LCD (Ambient light sensor to adjust display brightness according to environment)
Speakers and amplifier: ¾-inch high-definition, soft-dome tweeter and 3-inch high-power, long-throw woofer, Bi-amplified class D design with digital electronic crossover
Dimensions (H x W x D): 13 cm (5.12 inches) by 22 cm (8.66 inches) by 8.5 cm (5.04 inches)
Judie: Included in the box are the WiFi Internet radio, power adapter with removable plug, a 3.5mm line-in cord, and a quick start guide. Software for the device can be downloaded directly from Logitech. Like the Squeezebox Boom we previously reviewed, the Squeezebox Radio is composed of shiny, fingerprint loving black plastic. A large rubberized knob dominates the front of the radio, and there are six radio preset buttons on either side of the 2.4″ screen.
Julie: In addition to the preset buttons, there are 9 other buttons and a knob that control all the radio features. The buttons are rubberized and have good tactile feedback. Unlike the Squeezebox Boom, the Squeezebox Radio does not include a remote.
The speaker grill on the front has a Black knit material over it. I would prefer that it had a metal grill, but it’s not a big deal as long as you don’t accidentally snag it.
Judie: A handle is built into the back of the radio, which makes it easy to pick up and move when you want to place it somewhere else. Not shown is the battery compartment on the underside; you can install an optional rechargeable battery pack ($49.99) which also includes a remote control. Those of us who wind up using this as a bedside alarm clock will appreciate the battery pack option.
A cool thing I found is that the same infrared remote which works with the Logitech Boom will also control the Radio without changing any settings or … doing anything, really; it just automagically works.
The build quality of this device (as well as all Logitech products that I’ve reviewed) is first class. This little radio has a small footprint, but feels really sturdy. To me it almost looks kind of retro, which I think is kind of cool.
Judie: And I agree with you about the retro flavor and sturdiness of the Squeezebox. I also like that it has a nice weight to it; it feels substantial without being ridiculously heavy; you can even get it in bright shiny red if black is too utilitarian for you.
But to get back on topic …
There’s are power and Ethernet ports on the back, but the Ethernet port is only necessary if you do not have a wireless network in the location where you’ll be using the Squeezebox.
Julie: There’s a line-in jack so that you can use the Squeezebox Radio as an external speaker for other digital music players. There’s also a headphone jack on the right side. You won’t be using headphones with this radio though, because the built-in speaker does a really good job considering its size.
Judie: When you first tun on the Squeezebox Radio, you’ll be asked to select your language before instructions appear for connecting to your network. Twisting the large knob allows you to change selections, and pressing the large knob selects your choices. There is a clever scrolling alphanumeric keypad which will appear when it is time to enter the wireless network security key. After the key has been entered, pressing the Play button will begin the connection. Most likely, the first thing that you will see after that is news of a software update. At this writing, the current version is 7.5.0 r8673.
Once you’ve downloaded any updates, you can either create a Squeezebox account or sign into your current account. Again you’ll use the knob to select and enter your email address and password, followed by pressing the Play button to continue on.
Julie: After the initial setup has finished, you will use the main knob and the back button to scroll backwards and forwards through the various menus. The main menu is a portal to your music library on your computer (this requires that you install server software on your computer), internet radio and the apps you have installed (Pandora, Slacker Radio, Facebook, etc). Spin the knob to select the menu you want to access and then press the knob in to go into that menu. Pressing the back button goes back one menu level. If you ever want to go back to the home menu (shown below), you can just press the Home button. Easy.
Judie: You can control what’s playing on the Squeezebox Radio directly from the device itself, but you can also use the Squeezebox Remote software to control what’s played from your computer — even if it’s located way across the house; you just have to be on the same WiFi network. Squeezebox software is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
As Julie mentioned, once signed in to MySqueezebox you can select various “Apps” to install including Facebook (to view your news stream, photos, or to publish what you are listening to), Flickr (for displaying your photos), Sirius, Pandora, Rhapsody and other internet radio stations – both free and subscription based.
Julie: My fave apps are Pandora and Slacker Radio. But I also enjoy surfing through all the different internet radio genres and stations. The Squeezebox Radio doesn’t include an FM tuner to listen to regular terrestrial radio, but if your local stations also stream, you can find and listen to them through the Squeezebox. I love this feature.
Judie: I really like the little color screen and the way that it shows album art, photos or Facebook news stream when songs are playing. The screen is small and it’s not going to replace a full-size digital picture frame or browser, but it’s a neat feature. The time always displays at the bottom, along with a wireless signal indicator.
Julie: I agree that the LCD is a great feature. Even though it’s small, it’s bright and easy to read. I like that it shows the song’s title, artist and album info. It has helped me to find quite a few new favorite artists since I began using the Squeezebox.
Judie: When you aren’t using the radio, a default screen which shows the time, day and date will display. These are set automatically over the network, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Actually the phrase “you don’t need to worry about a thing” applies to most everything about the Squeezebox Radio. It’s extremely easy to set up, and even over my less than stellar satellite internet connection, it works well.
Julie: I agree, this product is super easy to use and I haven’t noticed any issues with buffering using the Squeezebox with my broadband connection. I’ve been frustrated in the past with other internet radio devices pausing in the middle of songs or not being able to connect to various stations. I won’t say that I haven’t had this happen (station connection issues) once or twice with the Squeezebox, but it has been rare.
Judie: I like the Radio’s alarm clock feature because it not only allows you to set up to seven different alarms for seven different days, you can also chose what you would like to be awakened to. The obvious music playlist choices are there, but so are musical sounds, natural sounds, and sound effects. I like the alarm clock’s features so much that I’ve put the Squeezebox Radio in our bedroom; it’s replaced my iPhone on the mornings when I need an alarm.
Judie: Oh, I totally agree! With all the great personalization features, the black & white clock just seems so … blah! But it is a minor quibble when everything else about the device is really good. Speaking of which — I have been very impressed with the sound from those little 3″ woofers! The Squeezebox Radio puts out great sound that can easily fill a room; the treble is not tinny, and the bass isn’t feeble. It sounds very rich and like it’s coming from a larger system.
Julie: I like everything about the Squeezebox Radio. It’s easy to use and sounds great. I really don’t have any complaints other than the fact that they didn’t throw in a remote! 😉 So it gets two thumbs up from me, and this time I’m not giving it away!
The Logitech Squeezebox Radio is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers.
MSRP: Starts at $199.99; available in black or red
What I Like: Easy to set up and easy to operate; allows you to stream free and paid channel audio wirelessly over your home WiFi network; the 2.4″ color screen displays album art, Flickr or Facebook photos, your Facebook news stream, or other items; the Squeezebox Radio is solidly built, looks great and sounds great, too
What Needs Improvement: It would be great if there were a way to change the colors or otherwise jazz up the boring black & white clock screen