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In Use

Logitech has streamlined the Radio's setup, with no mention of installing its Squeezebox Server software. In fact, there's no install CD that comes with the Radio. All you get is a printed Setup Guide poster that uses diagrams and minimal text to guide you through connecting the power supply and turning it on. As is fitting for a device dubbed a "Wi-Fi Internet Radio", you will need a working Internet connection.

Once booted, the Radio will automatically grab its IP address information via DHCP if it's plugged into Ethernet. Otherwise, it will find all 2.4 GHz in-range wireless networks and prompt you to select one. If the network is secured, you'll then be asked for a WEP key or WPA / WPA2 passphrase, which you enter using the push-button knob to scroll through and enter the password characters. Once connected, the Radio immediately contacted the Logitech mother ship and downloaded and installed a firmware update. After that was done, I was set to go.

If the Radio is your first Squeezebox, you'll want to head over to mysqueezebox.com, the home of all things Squeezebox (Figure 4). Once you create a free account, you can peruse the numerous services available via the App Gallery.

mysqueezebox.com Home

Figure 4: mysqueezebox.com Home

One of the things I really like about the Squeezeboxes is that they can access a lot of free (and pay) Internet music services including BBC, Classical.com, Last.fm, Mediafly, Napster, Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody and SIRIUS Internet radio. Squeezebox support for general Internet radio access is also top-notch. You can browse by Genre, find a station by geographic location or use the general search function. The Local feature is also handy, automatically providing a list of streaming stations in your local area.

The LCD display not only helps with navigation, but it also displays album art (if the service you are listening to supports it). You can also install the Flickr app and view your own photos or your friends'. Not so useful is the Facebook app, which will post the song you're listening to on your Wall at the press of a button.

mysqueezebox.com's Remote Control feature (Figure 5) is a bit more useful, letting you control multiple Squeezeboxes from a handy browser window. If you have an iTouch or iPhone, don't get too excited about this feature, though. I couldn't log into my account when using an iTouch and there didn't appear to be a mobile browser-optimized interface.

mysqueezebox.com Remote

Figure 5: mysqueezebox.com Remote

The last thing the browser interface helps with is configuring your Squeezebox. It's not as useful for the Radio as for the Boom, however, since there are fewer knobs to twiddle (Figure 6).

mysqueezebox.com My Players

Figure 6: mysqueezebox.com My Players

If you want to access your own digital music, you'll need to download and install the Squeezebox Server. There are versions for Windows, Mac OS X, NETGEAR's ReadyNASes, Windows Home Server, Debian / Ubuntu as well as Linux RPM and Perl code.

I've used Squeezecenter installed on a ReadyNAS NV+, QNAP and Synology NASes and they all work fine (although some past QNAP installs have been relatively painful). An annoyance that I found is that once you select a local Squeezebox server, you can't go back and select mysqueezebox.com as your server without resetting the Radio to factory defaults.

Once I did get set up, operation was pretty much trouble-free. I didn't mind the mono speaker vs. the Boom's stereo, since the Boom's speakers are too close together anyway for creating a wide soundstage. Speaking of soundstage, you should know that the StereoXL, Line In and Out and tone controls available in the Boom are missing from the Radio. All the Radio provides are Crossfade and Volume Adjustment controls for controlling song-to-song transitions and volume level.

I initially was disappointed by not finding any indication in the Radio's documentation that the headphone jack could be used as a line-out. But when I connected the Radio up to my receiver's Aux input, I found that it worked just fine. I just had to crank up the Radio's volume to almost full to get a good volume range from my receiver. But I detected no trace of distortion using the headphone jack as line-out and was pleased to find a stereo (vs. mono) signal too.

Finally, the six preset buttons worked just like a car radio's—a press-and-hold while listening to a station automatically linked it to the button.

Closing Thoughts

The Squeezebox Radio is another in a well-designed line of networked music players from Logitech. It's easy to set up and use and when paired with the iPeng iTouch / iPhone app, can rival much more expensive systems like the Sonos and Cisco / Linksys Wireless Home Audio System. The only bad news (for Logitech) is that the Radio pretty much kills the market for the $100 more expensive Boom, since the Radio has all of the Boom's essential features and a nice color LCD for displaying album art while you listen.

As with the Boom, I liked the Radio so much that I took advantage of holiday sales and bought two, both for $50 under the $199 MSRP. I can't guarantee it, but if you set a FatWallet alert, I'll bet it won't be long before you see the Radio available around $150.

If you're looking for a multi-talented networked music player that can stand alone, be connected into your entertainment system or used as part of a whole-house music system, the Logitech Radio is hard to beat.

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