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Review of the Squeezebox

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the gadgets-to-play-with dept.

Music 203

Slim Devices recently sent us the latest version of their Squeezebox MP3 player. It was snatched up and reviewed by Patrick Schoonveld (the poor guy responsible for making ads work on Slashdot and other OSTG sites). His review of the thing follows.

The following review was written by Patrick Schoonveld

A few weeks back, I noticed a shiny and lonely piece of kit hanging around the Slashdot offices. Ever the inquisitive [nosey] individual, I asked and was told it was an MP3 player for review. Thinking this an excellent use of my limited free time, I took it home to play with.

The Slim Devices Squeezebox is a networked MP3 player that can either play music from your collection via its open source SlimServer or via Internet streams. Shipping with a power cable and RCA tulip cable, it also provides digital optical and coax outs as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. This edition is the third generation, which comes in a much more attractive stand up form factor than two previous editions.

There are two versions available, one with 802.11g capabilities built in and one only with Ethernet. The 802.11g edition also ships with an Ethernet jack and can double as a bridge for other Ethernet-enabled devices. The wireless edition is available for $299 and the wired-only edition is $50 cheaper, both from their website.

The first step was to install the software provided by Slim Devices from their website. It is open source and written in Perl, with installers for Windows and Mac OS X as well as RPMs for Linux. I used a Windows laptop with an external drive that had a backup of my music. The installation went extremely smoothly, using a typical Windows installer. Within seconds, the server icon was in the system tray. My biggest issue was that the external drive was connected via USB 1.1 and scanning the 35 gigs of music stored there took over an hour.

On plugging in the device, I was very surprised to find a fluorescent display instead of the usual, inexpensive LCD. Flouros are much easier to see across a room or in the dark. The Squeezebox walked through a wizard-like process of configuring the network choices of wired vs. wireless, WEP key and IP address (DHCP or static) via the remote control. Although punching in a 128-bit hex key may seem inconvenient, it was quite easy due to the mapping of the characters to the numbers on the remote, similar to sending an SMS with a mobile phone. The Squeezebox even found the server on its own and was playing music in just a few minutes.

After it finished scanning my library, I played a few MP3s. I was immediately impressed by the quality of the audio and the speed with which hitting play via the web interface caused music to appear; lag was less than a second. I had assumed that as the laptop and the Squeezebox were both over 802.11g, collisions and traffic issues would be a problem. However, at no time did I ever notice any hiccups. I ran the Squeezebox for several hours while working and downloading a few Torrents, with no issue whatsoever. I also tried adding music to the queue via the remote control. The software on the device makes it very easy to navigate a large music collection using the remote to zip to the first character of any title, again like sending an SMS, hit 1 three time for 'C'. The + button on the remote allows you to add albums, songs or artists' libraries to the queue very easily.

I also played with the Internet radio tie-ins. It took very little time to sign up for a Live365 account and configure the Squeezebox for my account. Although the streams I found were low quality and quite busy, there were many options available including other streaming networks or purchasing a Live365 subscription for better quality streams.

After a week of use, I was very pleased with the SqueezeBox. It sounds fantastic and even using my wireless and USB 1.1 external drive didn't deter the ease of use. However, I had my PowerBook returned to me, which is my main music library and iTunes host. I proceeded to set it up as the primary server for the device. The installation was fairly easy (finding the long forgotten firewall settings took the most time), but the performance was atrocious. I read in the forums on Slimdevice's site that the daily builds have some performance fixes. I downloaded the latest build and still had no luck getting it to reliably play for more than a song. I then switched off the AirPort and plugged in an Ethernet cable and since, have had no problems whatsoever. As it worked fine with my Windows laptop, I am inclined to think it a problem with the Mac.

Since using the Mac, I've also turned on the iTunes integration. Supposedly, it will scan the iTunes library XML file to find playlists and new music nearly instantly compared to searching every MP3 file in a directory tree. I've not found that to be as reliable or easy as rumored on the forums on slimdevices.com. It would be much nicer if there was a "Reload iTunes file" button instead of trusting it will find your music after a user configurable period of time. It did, however, eventually find all of my playlists and make it very easy to play any one of them.

I've used the Squeezebox for another couple weeks with the Mac and have been very happy. The best parts are the reliability and audio quality; 192kb MP3s sound as good as my older Denon cd player to my non-audiophile ears. At $299, it is not an inconsiderably cheap piece of kit as one could build a basic PC to do this and more for a similar cost. However, with the attractive form factor, and great ease of use, I'm inclined to say it's worth it.

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and more! (5, Informative)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213734)

Pat's review is accurate. It is also incomplete (but for the squeezebox, that is easy to have happen... you just keep discovering more cool features).

Soooooooooo, in addition to his review I would add the following cool things about this device:

  • the Squeezebox is served by the slimserver software. This server allows you to run and play songs from your browser/computer as well as other places (I know technically this isn't a "feature" of the Squeezebox, but it ties in to some other features).
  • because it runs through slimserve, you can control the songs you hear via your browser -- that may sound mostly trick, but as with any fully featured piece of hardware, I find remotes only go so far before they're just plain cumbersome to use. (the Squeezebox remote IS a pretty good one, not perfect, but good).
  • you can synchronize more than one Squeezebox so they play the same music at the same time throughout the house (or whatever). I've used this with no problems, but have read other reviews saying it doesn't always work perfectly... ymmv.
  • the slimserver serving music to the Squeezebox supports plugins, and there are lots of them out there, some way cool. And, if you don't like any of those, you can roll your own.
  • the Squeezebox has myriad options for how it looks when "idle", when "off", when "now playing", etc. It has some interesting screen savers considering the tiny real estate.
  • you can listen to shoutcast/internet radio without your PC turned on -- it is built into the latest Squeezeboxes

So, you can see there is lots more than just stated in the review, and probably lots more than what I've shown.

I think Squeezebox is a great product (I own three). I am waiting for the day someone (hopefully SlimDevices) comes out with a decent and reasonably priced streaming device that has video out to display liner notes, lyrics, now playing, etc. (and, no, I'm NOT interested in a media center...)

Re:and more! (0, Offtopic)

newell98 (539530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213751)

How the HELL was a comment this long posted less the a minute after the article went live?

Re:and more! (2, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213775)

I have a Dvorak keyboard!

Re:and more! (0, Offtopic)

newell98 (539530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213794)

hmmm... that and you're a subscriber apparently. Feel free to ignore any and all future posts from me. :P

Re:and more! (1)

Donut2099 (153459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214550)

I took the time to learn Dvorak a few months ago when /. posted the link to that Dvorak zine site. I haven't regretted it. Yay Dvorak!

Re:and more! (0)

Nick Harkin (589728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213781)

The OP has a '*' by his or her name, which shows that they are a subscriber. Subscribers get the stories early. (The idea being to see the sites before everyone hits it, and it gets slashdotted.)

It means they also have time to write a comment, and submit as soon as the article goes live.

Re:and more! (0, Redundant)

Dick_Stallmanat0r (937057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213782)

Perhaps the submitter was a subscriber [slashdot.org] and so he was able to view the article early?

Re:and more! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213786)

Pay up and you can see the articles early too.

Re:and more! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213825)

How the HELL was a comment this long posted less the a minute after the article went live?
It's called a subscription.

Re:and more! (2, Informative)

burwaco (936760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214291)

The OP has a '*' by his or her name, which shows that they are a subscriber. Subscribers get the stories early. (The idea being to see the sites before everyone hits it, and it gets slashdotted.) So, what if all off us got a subscription ?

Re:and more! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214373)

So, what if all off us got a subscription ?

Then you'd of course buy a "Premium Subscription" to see the story earlier than regular subscribers.

Yeah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213930)

How about a builtin HDD or CF card so I don't have to have my computer on to listen to stored music?

minor nit (1)

phayes (202222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214197)

Slimboxes are now into their third generation and have been 802.11b & 802.11g since they came out with the V2 over a year ago. The 802.11b only status of V1 slimboxes was the reason I didn't buy one. I've been very happy with my V2.

Re:and more! (1)

plumby (179557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214310)

You've missed one of my favourite features - the live music archive. Not sure if this is available through any other method, but I discovered it through the SqueezeBox. It's a huge collection of concerts that you can play through it. I think there's about 1000 different artists available there at the moment, and most of them have several gigs. They aren't the most famous artists but the fact that I can get access to about 30 different Warren Zevon gigs is just fantastic.

Also, you've mentioned that you want lyrics and stuff displayed through your TV - I know it's not quite what you're after but I'm assuming you've downloaded the Lyrics plugin that allows you to scroll through them on the display.

frist post (-1, Offtopic)

BeBoxer (14448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213735)

first post

Re:frist post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213783)

Ha ha! Unlucky noob! Looks like someone forgot to set it to anonymous, you retard.

I shall make sure to mod all of your posts down as a matter of principle from now on.

Re:frist post (0, Troll)

tacolicker (924348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213826)

U R t3h 1337z0rz!!1!!0MFG!!11!~!@!

ads? (5, Funny)

mooosenix (773281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213742)

the poor guy responsible for making ads work on Slashdot and other OSTG sites

Ads?

What ads?

Re:ads? (0, Troll)

ErikRed1488 (193622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213759)

uummmm, maybe the review you just read.

Re:ads? (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213901)

with proxomitron, i never see ads on /., except for the ones by submitters.

Re:ads? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213946)

For $1.50 a day neither do I, and yet I still support the site.

Re:ads? (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214024)

Good on 'ya. BTW, 365*1.50=$547.50 US.

Re:ads? (1)

NamShubCMX (595740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214015)

Well this one (the article) worked :)

No Ogg yet. (4, Informative)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213752)

And, by itself, it still doesn't support Ogg Vorbis.

FLAC is a nice plus, though. :)

Re:No Ogg yet. (4, Informative)

ecloud (3022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213923)

But transcoding to FLAC is fine, I think. You don't lose any quality and it's half the bandwidth of streaming PCM. And even my slow server can do the transcoding just fine.

Nowadays when I rip CDs I encode to FLAC primarily, and also to MP3 if I want to be able to play it on devices that don't support anything else. But I play the FLACs at home. So I don't consider ogg as useful as I once did - it's lossy and it's not widely supported. Disk space is cheap, so why lose quality? abcde is a good program to use for the ripping BTW.

Re:No Ogg yet. (1)

priestx (822223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213924)

FLAC is a very nice addition, but is also cumbersome. Cumbersome meaning large and very rich in sound. Most artists doesn't support FLAC, and most media players don't either I think. I've had to install it on multiple computers just to hear the same losslessness of an uncompressed mp3. Well done guys :-)

Re:No Ogg yet. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213956)

It does, it's just not on the front page... maybe they're ashamed of it, or something =D

http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_overview.html [slimdevices.com]

Re:No Ogg yet. (1)

Tanaka (37812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214036)

It's true, it can't do it natively. It does seamlessly transcode it at the server, but you loose the fast-forward and reverse functions.

Re:No Ogg yet. (1)

AlvySinger (900304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214358)

Hey, SlimServer is open source. If it doesn't do what you want, you've got the code... (I know, OGG is supported by transcoding on the server but I like being facetious.)

Re:No Ogg yet. (1)

fingal (49160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214402)

that wouldn't fix it - the firmware for the squeezebox itself is closed, so having access to the server source wouldn't wouldn't be able to fix the issue. You need to do the decoding on the squeezebox itself if you want the native fast forward and reverse functionality.

Ads?! (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213756)

Gee, he is still doing that!

The OSX version does need work (4, Informative)

rmcd (53236) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213779)

The review is correct that the OSX version does not work reliably. I find that the database becomes corrupt, something which never happened under Windows. It is also very slow to create the index. Apart from this Mac-only problem, it's a terrific device.

Squeezebox rocks! (4, Informative)

ecloud (3022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213795)

I've got 2 so far. There just isn't anything better right now. There aren't many alternatives for playing FLACs and OGGs at all. And the server software is free software, written in Perl! What more could a hacker ask for?

Re:Squeezebox rocks! (1)

Kryptolus (238444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213978)

A server NOT written in perl? ;)

Re:Squeezebox rocks! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214075)

I agree, Perl seems to the the weakest link (single threaded), however in terms of features, it's fantastic. So good in fact, that it would take too long now to consider changing to another programming language now. If only they had started it in Java or C# Mono.

Re:Squeezebox rocks! (3, Interesting)

magikus (697267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214175)

Yes, the box is great. But what really makes a difference is the company and their approach to customers. One time they posted instructions on how to open the box and add a capacitor to fix the headphones hum issue. And the operation did not void the warranty!

Cool toy for geeks and others too! Here is a good review:

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/12 05/slimdevices_squeezebox.htm [enjoythemusic.com]

Cheers,

The power of open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213803)

I own a SliMP3, their first gen device. What really makes this product is the software. It consistently amazes you with how well it performs and how easy it is to use.

This is a great example of the power of open source software. A devoted group of users has really polished and streamlined the software.

Responsbile for the ads working, eh? (2, Interesting)

TheLetterPsy (792255) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213807)

Pat Schoonveld (the poor guy responsible for making ads work on Slashdot and other OSTG sites).

Now I know who to be pissed at when a /. flash-based ad causes Firefox to munch CPU. Granted, it wasn't Pat that made the ad, but at least I can now point my finger!!

(Yeah, yeah, I know -- FlashBlock, AdBlock and all that jazz)

Re:Responsbile for the ads working, eh? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213881)

Pat Schoonveld... Now I know who to be pissed at when a /. flash-based ad causes Firefox to munch CPU.
One Firefox feature I truly desire is a "stop" button that will stop all animations (and any other cpu-consuming tasks) within a window. Also I'd like the option to do that automatically for background tabs.

Re:Responsbile for the ads working, eh? (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214135)

It's called Flashblock for flash animations and the ESC key for GIFs

Re:Responsbile for the ads working, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214652)

I think you missed the point.

There's nothing more annoying than having 20 tabs open, when suddenly something somewhere starts making noise. and it's not the page you're currently looking at.
Not to mention how wasteful running flash animations,etc you're not even looking at is for a laptop battery...

I don't mind judicious use of flash in a website. Sometimes it's appropriate. Sometimes It's something I put up with because some idiot put all their content in it and I'm interested.
I love firefox, but it's CPU usage (principally where animating things I'm not looking at) and memory usage are things that leave something to be desired, ESPECIALLY on a laptop.

Wireless internet is here, people. it's real. and the longer you can make their batteries last, the happier they are.

Hooray! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213853)

Slashdot - Blatant Product Placement at its finest!

One nit... (4, Interesting)

ecloud (3022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213857)

you do need a fairly fast machine to get that great performance to which the reviewer is referring. I'm trying to use an old dual-PII 233 machine and it's quite slow to serve up web pages, find tracks by artist, etc. Seems like it ought to be fast enough for this relatively simple task, but I guess perl is just slow. My perl is not threaded either, so all the load is on one of the processors, and lets the other be mostly idle. I've been wondering if there could be a way to compile it to machine code rather than having to run it interpreted?

One improvement is to use mysql instead of sqlite; I have done that, and it is still too slow. But on a 1 ghz or faster machine it's fine.

Re:One nit... (1)

LynchMan (76200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214067)

I don't think that you need a 'Fairly Fast Machine' to run it. I'm running my SlimServer on an AMD K6-2 350 w/ 256 ram (running linux). The machine is also my webserver, ftp server, email server, NFS server, blah blah blah - my 'everything' server box. Granted scanning 80gigs of MP3's takes a bit, but I just have the software setup to do the rescans at 3:30 in the morning. So other than when the rescanning is occuring, it runs very smoothly with plenty of resourses left on the server box to do whatever else.

Re:One nit... (1)

magikus (697267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214210)

your setup must be wrong. Try slimcd http://www.herger.net/slim/ [herger.net]

I's got SlimServer running on PIII 900MHZ and it rocks!

Why don't you try using... (1)

blorg (726186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214238)

Oracle.

Re:One nit... (1)

Eezy Bordone (645987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214323)

This depends mostly on the size of your library. I ran slimsever on a P2 450 with 384MB of RAM for 3 years and I've only recently upgraded the server to a Sempron 2400 with 1GB of RAM and it was for other purposes than the performances of the slimserver. I do get hit with some lag when using the remote (especially when 'browsing the music folder') but my admin webpages always load right up.

Re:One nit... (1)

Happy Lemming (918671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214512)

I have SlimServer running on a busy computer, and had occasional problems with my three-year-old Slimp3 running out of buffer and falling silent, or stuttering, for half a minute at a time. Increasing memory to 1 GB solved the problem.

Squeezebox + podcasts = radio almost on demand. Great product.

pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213865)

Why is the price $299 ?
I have a old laptop that does the same thing...ok,its not good lookin or small
but what the heck.
I hope someone makes and sells these for $99 to $139 range.
I dont think the hardware should cost more than that.

any other alternatives to *slim which are not that expensive. ?
I need to have a mp3 player that just sucks all the mp3s/oggs from an external HD and doesnt require a computer to operate.

Pat

Re:pricing (4, Interesting)

Black Perl (12686) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214324)

Why is the price $299 ?

It has a high-end DAC that rivals good stereo equipment. You can't get this kind of sound from a typical PC soundcard. It also has a very nice VFD display, S/PDIF outputs, a nice DSP. It supports lossless formats, FLAC, ogg, you name it. At the $299 price it includes 802.11g wifi. It has an extensive list of features in the firmware--alarm clock, full-screen visualizations, scrolling RSS feeds, extensive integratability (i.e. use xPL, a standard home automation protocol, to send messages to your Squeezeboxes). Given all it has, I think the price is reasonable.

any other alternatives to *slim which are not that expensive. ?

Second-generation ones on eBay.

Re:pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214454)

I think Roku makes a better device, at least on the Mac side. We have two Roku's, one is the M500 and the other is the M1000, both with wifi cards. Set up was easy, iTunes playing is a snap, and on sale at $149.00 at BestBuy were a deal no one could pass up...

Re:pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214381)

you seem to have good ideas and a lot of knowledge about hardware. I suggest you start a company to make and sell these for $99-$139, there must be a huge market for that.

A bit more depth... (5, Informative)

jafo (11982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213868)

I've had one of the previous generation Squeezebox devices for a couple of years now, and I'm very happy with it. While I could have set up a Linux box doing this, I have limited time to fart around with things and the squeezebox just WORKED. The device itself support mp3 and uncompressed audio streaming, and since most of my music is in FLAC format (from ripped CDs), I thought I'd have problems with it. However, I just installed the software, let it dig around my music collection, and changed some firewall rules and was off and running.

The biggest complaint I have about it is that sometimes if the server is busy (scanning music again, for example), it will stutter during playback. A bigger buffer would be useful here I think.

Also note that the SlimServer software can be used without the device. In fact, if you want to try out how you will like a squeezebox, there is a Java applet that exactly emulates the squeezebox, including display, remote control, and more. A good way to tell if you are going to want to spend $300 on the box. See the http://softsqueeze.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] softsqueeze web site for more information.

There's also a simpler client that can also talk to the slimserver that you can run. A friend has been running this on his stereo PC for several years now, without getting a squeezebox. It works great for him, and you control it via a browser on the slimserver, just like with the regular squeezebox.

The browser control of the server is another thing I love about it. If I'm on the patio or in the dining room with music playing, I can just use my laptop to change the volume, skip a song, or pause, instead of hunting down the remote. Plus it works really well to add a particular song we are talking about at a party or the like.

It's a great device. I got it on sale at $249, and am very happy with it. In fact, we have two of them. I want to add another one for the bathroom for showering tunes.

Sean

And another thing (2, Informative)

Sad Loser (625938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214307)

from someone else with two of the previous generation version.

The present version has got a much better D/A converter, whereas the old one was a bit crap if you had a decent hifi. The good thing is that both versions have digital electrical (SPDIF) and toslink out, so I just run the spdif into a good quality cheap DAC.

As hifi nuts update their kit regularly, you don't have to pay much for some top notch kit which is a few years old, and there is nothing to wear out in a DAC.

You can also use the web interface to manage what is streamed to your computer, and you can co-ordinate multiple players to all play the same thing, which is handy for parties.

Good gadget, but definitely happier in wired mode than wireless, I have found.

Re:And another thing (1)

plumby (179557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214404)

Good gadget, but definitely happier in wired mode than wireless, I have found.Really? What problems have you had? I was amazed by how easy it was to set up. I had to press the right key about 4 times to accept the default, and apart from typing my network passkey in, everything was pretty much automatic.

I've never had it drop a connection, the sound quality seems pretty much perfect to my ears, and it even copes gracefully when I reboot the wireless router (shows Network Unavailable message for a few seconds until the router is back up, and then reconnects automatically).

Offices? (2, Funny)

g0at (135364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213872)

A few weeks back, I noticed a shiny and lonely piece of kit hanging around the Slashdot offices.

Slashdot has offices? Is that a euphemism for "basements"? Given that the "editors" don't edit (nor often exercise demonstrable discretion), I am puzzled about why they would need any offices.

-b

Re:Offices? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213966)

so there is someplace to send free stuff to be reviewed..d'uh.

Reading this... really gives me an idea. (3, Interesting)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213876)

WiFi for the Nintendo DS is currently in the process of being hacked. After it's done, I can't help but think that this would be among one of the PERFECT homebrew apps for the system, assuming that the device does what I think it does. The way I understand it, this device streams music from your home PC, and plays it for you, with an interface to change songs. The DS would make a fantastic platform for this, as it has a touch screen and is more than capable of decoding MP3/Vorbis on the fly... 4MB of Memory is more than enough for a buffer as well. If nobody else develops a client for this for Nintendo DS, I just might be interested in coding it myself, as this is something that has always been #1 in my list of wants for Nintendo DS homebrew. (Although before now, I hadn't really thought about how it should work).

Re:Reading this... really gives me an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214245)

why does the DS have to do the decoding? Wouldn't you just want to use the DS as a cool remote / interface to the server? OR do you mean having the music actually play through the DS' speakers? That would be sweet.

Re:Reading this... really gives me an idea. (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214376)

Yeah. Being anywhere that's away from your PC... and streaming the music to your DS over a network connection or internet connection. The speakers aren't so great, but when using headphones, the audio quality is quite good.

802.11g, not 802.11b (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213884)

The wireless is 802.11g, not b. Don't think flac, wav, or shn could travel well over b.

I prefer not having server software... (1)

jamis (16403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213891)


I still use my Turtle Beach AudioTron.

http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/audiotron /producthome.asp [turtlebeach.com]

The biggest selling point to me for the AudioTron was the fact that it didn't need server software. The device would scan your network for CIFS shares with MP3/WAV files (Windows Networking or SAMBA) that it had access to.

The AudioTron also has a complete web interface in it's firmware, supports internet radio stations, had a semi-active third party software community, integrates well it your stereo system (looks like a stereo component), supports optical audio-out, etc...

Too bad they discontinued it.

Re:I prefer not having server software... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214603)

Ah, yes, another AudioTron owner!

I love my AudioTron (2nd gen, Ethernet-only). Like you said, the fact that it requires zero server software, other than well, a storage device that supports CIFS/Windows File Sharing/Samba. In fact, I recently acquired a really cheap SOHO NAS box, moved my MP3s to that, and reconfigured the AudioTron to use that (it scans the network by default, but with a million shares, it could take a while, so I restricted it to one share). Now I don't need my PC on to listen to MP3s.

And with the built-in webserver and self-generated content and HTTP API...

(BTW, if you're entirely curious, it's one of the few Windows CE-based devices that I really like (it runs CE 2.11). And that's how it manages to support CIFS out of the box as well as many other things.).

But yeah, it sucked that it was discontinued. I don't need to run anything new that isn't already running on my computer, or server.

Why Bother? (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213892)

I have to admit I find the Airport Express far more interesting and relevant to my needs. 802.11b/g, wired ethernet, ability to act as bridge, ability to serve USB printers, digital and analog out, doesn't take up any space in my AV rack, and iTunes integration is, needless to say, perfect. Oh, and it's $129 :).

Mind you, it's a different paradigm -- you control this box via the remote, whereas with the AE you tell iTunes what music to stream to it -- but it works pretty darn well for me.

Re:Why Bother? (1)

fingal (49160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214062)

Squeezebox has wired and wireless ethernet and will also work as a bridge.

He forgot to add his rating.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14213893)

8/10

802.11g (3, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213950)

Squeezebox is now 802.11g, not b

Re:802.11g (1)

Ackmo (700165) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213995)

There's no escape from the music In the whole damn street.

Hi Sean! (1)

mxttr1 (937356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214276)

I didn't find any "what's new" link on http://slimdevices.com/ [slimdevices.com] for this edition of the squeezebox, does that mean that the packaging is the only new thing in this release? Thanks! -M

Technical error (1)

CoolAccent (937345) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213980)

The new Squeezebox in fact has a 802.11g, not 'b'. Runs at 54 Mb/s, not 11.

which squeezebox is it? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14213991)

there are three generations of them, and I'll be damned if I can tell which one he reviewed....

that's usually helpful.

Re:which squeezebox is it? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214008)

actually, apparently it's the 3rd gen..from the header-not the review
  but the review is SO LACKING it doesn't even identify any specs that would make the determination obvious.

howabout some of the sales specs included in the review,
# of lines on the LCD display etc...

Re:which squeezebox is it? (2)

DrWhizBang (5333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214053)

From TFA:

This edition is the third generation, which comes in a much more attractive stand up form factor than two previous editions.

Does that help?

Hacker Friendly (4, Informative)

LynchMan (76200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214010)

I've had a SqueezeBox v1 for several years and I love it as well. I was originally interested in it because of the server software - that it was Open Source and written in PERL. Plus they encourage hacking of the hardware and of the software. Any company with those morals gets my support.

When I first got my SqueezeBox in the mail it would not play correctly - the sound was all distorted. I sent them an email and they told me to just open it up and see if anything was loose or broken from shipping. I asked "Won't that void my warranty?" and they just said no, don't worry about it. So I popped it open and found that there was a broken piece floating around in it. They just told me to send it back and they replaced it very quickly and covered all shipping charges.

Sure, you can run to your local electronics store and get a wireless MP3 player for less than the Squeezebox, but does it run on Linux, is the software Open Source, is the company 'Not Evil'?

If only more companies were like Slim Devices we would have some really cool things going on.

Re:Hacker Friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214105)

What I want to know is if the SqueezeBox itself can run linux.

If I remember the specs correctly, it has 32M flash, enough to hold 2 of 3 songs early in the morning when your computer is off.

Re:Hacker Friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214423)

Sure, you can run to your local electronics store and get a wireless MP3 player for less than the Squeezebox, but does it run on Linux, is the software Open Source, is the company 'Not Evil'?

I thought the point of "free" software was that it didn't cost more...

Doesn't reflect too well on the concept if an impementation costs more to use Free software.

Squeezebox (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214054)

My Mama's got one of these. And my Daddy never sleeps at night.

Dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214293)

Yo' mama goes in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out

Mama's Got a Squeezebox (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214058)

Daddy never sleeps at night!

Unicode support (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214100)

Does the Squeezebox have proper unicode support? I listen to Japanese music mostly, and it would be sad if the device wouldn't display any of my tags.

Re:Unicode support (4, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214361)

Does the Squeezebox have proper unicode support? I listen to Japanese music mostly, and it would be sad if the device wouldn't display any of my tags.

In fact it does support Japanese very well - also Chinese, Hebrew, and Cyrillic.

Unicode support was one of the major updates that came as part of the 6.2 software update released along with Squeezebox 3.

Sean Adams
CEO, Slim Devices

Video? (1)

LynchMan (76200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214437)

Sean - will the Squeezebox ever support Video? Now *That* would be sweet.

Re:Unicode support (2, Informative)

magikus (697267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214370)

yes, it does

go to the forums and search for unicode

http://forums.slimdevices.com/ [slimdevices.com]

it's 802.11G not 802.11B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214154)

the guys at slim don't f#ck around - i have 3 of these and it's by far and away the best home option available.

ipods et al (1)

(void*)cheerio (443053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214214)

For those of us who have just less then 60GB of mp3s, wouldn't an iPod be a better choice?
It's a bit more pricey but then you can walk on the street with it too?

Maybe if it was ~$100

Collisions and other traffic... (1)

gallwapa (909389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214219)

Doesn't 802.11b use CSMA/CA...thereby eliminating all collissions, much like token passing networks?

Roku Soundbridge is better for Mac/iTunes users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214275)

I saw the Squeezebox player at someone's house and thought it was the coolest thing, until I found the Roku Soundbridge. The Soundbridge can link with iTunes natively and doesn't require any more software like the slimserver to run. It is also a ton cheaper. It's available retail for $149.00 at Circuit City and is going on e-Bay(where I picked up mine) for around 100 bucks.

I can now read libraries from my Mac Powerbook 15" iTunes, my PC iTunes, and my wife's PC Laptop iTunes!

Check it out as it is even cooler and a lot cheaper too. One caveat is to make sure your Router is compatible or else you'll have to run some workarounds to get it going.

No way man (1)

magikus (697267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214509)

You never owned the box, so how could you know?

It is way better then the soundbridge. Buy one and try it out. There is 30 days return policy.
Excelent internet radio support for example.
Great community of hackers.
And many, many more....

It is great. Changes you life :) Sorts of like Tivo.

Squeezebox 3 is 802.11g, not 802.11b (2, Informative)

gregstumph (442817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214314)

One little correction: the new Squeezebox 3 is an 802.11g device, not b. Even better wireless goodness! (The Squeezebox 1 was 802.11b). I picked up my Squeezebox 3 last week at the Slimdevices road show here in Seattle, and I've been loving it. I also have two of the first-generation Squeezeboxes.

My other favorite features in the new version:
- native FLAC support! (It used to have to convert to WAV before streaming to the unit)
- SqueezeNetwork, which lets the Squeezebox stream from the Internet without a local SlimServer running.
- better DAC
- new grayscale display with cool VU meters, etc.

Streaming BBC radio, too! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214421)

With AlienBBC [mrtickle.org] you can get the full collection of BBC streams through the squeezebox, too.

Since BBC streams everything in Real format, I think this is the only thing short of a full HTPC that gets the full beeb collection to your living room outside the UK. Even XM and Delphi only have a few beeb channels.

 

Reason for worse quality (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214493)

Airport is fine to airport networks- but it's interoperability with the other 802.11x standards leaves a good deal to be desired. I'm willing to bet the worse quality experienced with Airport turned on was due to Airport, not the Squeezebox or the computer itself.

Web 2.0 (3, Funny)

web20 (937325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214503)

I read the whole review. Nowhere does it mention if this device is Web 2.0 compliant. Can I use Ruby on Rails and AJAX with the Squeezebox? Podcasts are not even supported. This device is not important to the blogosphere as a whole.

Internet Streaming... (1)

neophyte13 (707506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214522)

I thought I would post how I use mine. I didn't buy the hardware because I am a cheap skate, but I did down load the software since my place is wired in ever room several times over. Upon noticing the port nubmering I wondered if I could, instead of creating and hauling CDs/DVD full of MP3 to the office to listen while I work, configure my router to route traffic to the server and listen in from work. This works flawlessly!!! I just type in http:/// [http] /steam.mp3 and it is up and running. All I have to do from here is queue up music. There is even an option under the "Sever Config" link that allows you to password protect your stream and server, which I did. :-) No me and my friends can listen to my several different streams at the same time, unless your work blocks media files (.mp3) you can too!!!!

Not so happy with it (2, Informative)

Ian Bicking (980) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214540)

I got one of these a while ago, and I've never really been happy with it. Setting it up on Debian wasn't terribly hard (with alien), but not that easy either. On Ubuntu I can't get it to run at all, some research showed it had something to do with Perl and threads and whatever version of libraries Ubuntu was using, but I couldn't find any resolution. The software itself never impressed me; the web UI was clunky, it would segfault fairly regularly, and always spewed out a variety of warnings. It didn't deal very well with the size of my music collection; by only using the file browsing mode I could get by (I keep my music well organized in folders), but other modes (e.g., browsing by artist parsed from id3 tags) were too slow.

The box itself seemed like too dumb of a client, asking the server about what it should do in response to every action. Perhaps the wireless connection back to my computer wasn't good enough (it was a fair distance), but even so, the fact it could play an MP3 *at all* would indicate it should have a good enough connection to present a usable UI. But the response was always slow, with little indication whether it was working or not. I probably wouldn't have minded the slowness of certain operations if I could tell reliably that it was definitely *doing* something. But instead I'd have to wait 10 seconds and try again if it seemed to have not noticed the remote signal.

For actual listening, I could get maybe 30 minutes of play before it randomly stopped. Getting it going again was hard, involving rebooting several different pieces and finally just praying it would start working. I could never understand what was going on.

It's entirely possible that a bad connection to my computer leads to a general degredation of... everything. If I can get it working again I'll probably try to connect it via ethernet. But even if that is the problem, the degredation is not very graceful.

Another thing that annoyed me, and may or may not still be the case, is that it only plays MP3s. I got the impression that it played oggs from its marketing, but that's just bullshit. The server software happens to be able to transcode to MP3. Having the server transcode to MP3 is stupid (and uses up a lot of CPU to boot), and I ended up simply transcoding all my oggs to mp3 and keeping them on disk instead of having it do this on the fly.

Re:Not so happy with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14214655)

Your choice of Ubuntu linux implies that you have the knowledge to deal with things like this. My slimserver software has been running for 6 months with no problems at all on RedHat Linux. It seems that most of your complaints aren't about the Slim device, but your environment.

Version 1 (released years ago) only plays mp3s. The later products play uncompressed WAVs and MP3s natively. Any other format can be decoded on the server and sent as a WAV. Do a little research before posting...

You can try it for free...... (1)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214545)

The slimserver is free to download, and so is softsqueeze (bundled with the server). You can run softsqueeze in a browser or as it's own program. It's a Java applet, so it runs on all platforms.

The softsqueeze is basically an emulator of the actual hardware, but not quite as cool. It has SSH tunneling built into the software so you can use it at work very easily. The streaming is very well done so the bandwidth requirements aren't bad at all.

I love this stuff and I don't own any of the hardware.

Great for the Non-Techies in Your Life (1)

airuck (300354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214594)

Our own squeezebox worked so well for my wife that I purchased one for my father and another for my best friend as well. All three enjoy the painless remote control interface. Both my wife and friend are decidedly non-technical and prefer to have little or nothing to do with computers, but the squeezebox has been a big hit with them. My wife, a professional pastry chef, says that it has changed her work life in the kitchen. It is a really well concieved appliance.

another 1st gen owner (1)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214654)

And loving it.. I run the server in a VMware ESX guest with the CPU shares lowered to just 5 - same as my DNS server (default is 1,000). My father-in-law changed out my exploded water heater on Father's Day for free last year so I thanked him with a 2nd gen Squeezebox. He ABSOLUTELY loves it, and built a 220GB MP3 collection around it, and wired up whole-house audio and music around the pool.

I have had some issues with Centos 4 show up only in that VMware guest, however. ARPs don't complete properly and the MAC for the SliMP3 shows up as (incomplete) until I cron up a job to fix it manually. I also have to cron up an ntpdate command every 10 minutes, as the clock is off by about 45 seconds every 10 minutes. Strange.

Finally, as others have pointed out their favorite things to play.. years ago I found Vibeflow.com for hundreds of hours of a wide variety of great music. And if you poke around behind the curtains, you can find a .pls generator they coded up and basically wget the .pls files for their entire collection! No one else has mentioned the tight Shoutcast integration. Finally, more recent versions of the server software lets you pop a .pls URL right into the web page and tune in. Pair that up with greasemonkey script that adds a .pls link alongside every MP3 URL and you can quickly and easily queue up any .mp3 URL you find on the net.

Seriously, check out Vibeflow's Alias Circa show archive.

CLI (1)

fingal (49160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14214666)

It is also, to the best of my knowledge, the only networked audio device that has a command line interface. telnet into the slimserver on port 9090 and you can control all of the SqueezeBoxen on your network directly - makes writing 3rd party clients very easy...
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