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boboso
2005-07-03, 09:38
I am currently researching various media servers to use with my existing iMac/iTunes and home theater system. Here is some general information:
-iMac w/ external drive for back up of music
-Wireless Router TBD (Airport Extreme or Netgear)
-iTunes (256vbr) 800 CDs
-HomeTheater - will connect if possible via digital (tosslink)

Systems being reviewed:
-Sonos (no digital output), love the remote (bling factor) and ease of set up. Box acts as amp so remote sites can be set up easily (garage etc.) Minus = $
-Soundbridge, easy set up, friends use and love device, low cost Minus = iTunes needs to be running (?)
-Squeezebox, ease of set up based on users in forums, good integration, low cost Minus = ???

Questions:
-Does iTunes need to be running in order to access files?
-Does iMac need to be "awake"
-We use iTunes to "manage" library, will SlimServer be ok with this?

We are leaning to the Sonos due to the ability to have the amp and speakers in areas we do not have, though cost is an issue. Any other suggestions, opions are welcome. Thanks!

radish
2005-07-03, 11:52
-Does iTunes need to be running in order to access files?

No

-Does iMac need to be "awake"

Probably - depends on the definition of "awake". It needs to be alive on the network, have it's disks spun up etc.

-We use iTunes to "manage" library, will SlimServer be ok with this?

Yes.


We are leaning to the Sonos due to the ability to have the amp and speakers in areas we do not have, though cost is an issue. Any other suggestions, opions are welcome. Thanks!
Get a squeezebox for each room, where you don't have a hifi already buy some active speakers or a small amp & bookshelves. Not as integrated as the Sonos, but considerably cheaper, and, as far as I can tell, considerably more flexible.

Patrick Dixon
2005-07-03, 12:41
bling factor - you can use a wireless PDA as a SB remote, either with a built-in http browser or with a third party app like telcanto.

Dave D
2005-07-03, 13:08
Hi Boboso,

I recently went through a similar choice, though yours includes the Sonos and mine did not. As such, I have no strong opinions on that product.

I wanted a reasonably-priced box that would not require the TV for display. My short list was the Squeezebox2 and the Soundbridge M1000. Yes, I knew about Netgear and Creative. They are not in the same class, in my opinion.

I don't know how much the user interface matters to you, but it's very important to me. Though Soundbridge is a nice design (from an industrial engineering point of view), it fell short in the user interface category, in my opinion, from what I read on their forums (and I read, and read, and read, both on their site and on this one.)

If user interface matters greatly to you, you might want to download both companies' user manuals and compare. As a couple of examples, Soundbridge's menus do not wrap around. You get to the bottom of the list and you gotta go back up; no other choice. (To be fair, I expect this is one of the top features they are working on for their next software release, since it's been mentioned SO many times in their forums). Also, the lack of "number buttons" on their remote means their method of direct entry searching is not very efficient (you need to use the left/right arrows to select each letter.)

Also, Roku has several times stated that they will not reveal what features they are working on adding. That seems a bit silly to me, although I concede that I can think of several reasons to have this policy. Still, some feedback would be helpful, and they give virtually none. This rather turned me off.

Now I'm going to speculate a bit. Roku has a rebate offer on the M500 and M1000 which they recently extended several months, which makes me think they could be reducing inventory for a new product introduction (or maybe they just want to sell more boxes :) They have also entered into an agreement with Tatung for producing equipment (see their Press Releases page). They are offering their Soundbridge technology to OEMs for integration into other equipment. They state that they will not compete with those OEMs and imply that their business model is not focused on equipment sales: "We use our stand-alone products to prove our technology..." "We donít intend to build these products; instead we are focusing our efforts in this area on core embedded solutions for large OEMs."


Where am I going with this? Well, I wanted to buy something which will not be quickly obsolete or unsupported, but that's the vibe I got from reading about Roku's OEM relationships (Would they drop the Soundbridges altogether if they are successfully selling the technology?) I also wanted something which is well supported for feature improvements, bug fixes, etc. Now I will say that I am impressed with the quick response of the Roku engineers on the forums. But there's no indication of software direction. (Compare that to Slim's software, which is open source.)

One more comment, in case you were considering using the Slimserver software with a Soundbridge. In order to interact with Slimserver, Roku needs to make the Soundbridge emulate a Squeezebox client. They don't currently support the 6.x series Slimserver, and (of course) they will not comment on whether or not they will be supporting it in the future.

By the way I have no affiliation with either Roku or Slim Devices. No stake in the game, other than the Squeezebox2 I recently ordered. And, I'll admit that I'm an engineer, and the "geek factor" of the Squeezebox appeals to me.

Anyway, it sounds like you already have some experience with Soundbridge from your friends. Why not download the Slimserver software, install it, start it up, and then install Softsqueeze (Squeezebox emulator) to get a feel for the Squeezebox2, as well?

Good luck in your choice! I think all three are fine products and you'll probably be happy with any of them.

- Dave

[QUOTE=boboso]I am currently researching various media servers to use with my existing iMac/iTunes and home theater system. Here is some general information:
-iMac w/ external drive for back up of music
-Wireless Router TBD (Airport Extreme or Netgear)
-iTunes (256vbr) 800 CDs
-HomeTheater - will connect if possible via digital (tosslink)

Systems being reviewed:
-Sonos (no digital output), love the remote (bling factor) and ease of set up. Box acts as amp so remote sites can be set up easily (garage etc.) Minus = $
-Soundbridge, easy set up, friends use and love device, low cost Minus = iTunes needs to be running (?)
-Squeezebox, ease of set up based on users in forums, good integration, low cost Minus = ???

Questions:
-Does iTunes need to be running in order to access files?
-Does iMac need to be "awake"
-We use iTunes to "manage" library, will SlimServer be ok with this?

We are leaning to the Sonos due to the ability to have the amp and speakers in areas we do not have, though cost is an issue. Any other suggestions, opions are welcome. Thanks!

boboso
2005-07-04, 16:29
Dave, thanks for the insight and thoughts. Often forums seem to post mainly negative concerns (i.e. Apple User Forums) and you have to "weed" through the venting type posts. It is good to see useful information in these forums.

I have tried the SlimServer and SoftSqueeze emulator and although it had some issues, it gave me a good idea of the features.

I will be making a decision within the next two weeks as I am going to see a Sonos demo at a local Best Buy/Magnolia store. I am now leaning towards the SqueezeBox 2 due to cost.

Thanks again.

bob

Kyanoti
2005-07-23, 17:27
While I can't comment on other devices, I will make a simple observation: the SlimP3 I purchased from Slim Devices about two years ago not only continues to be supported, but has also become more usable and friendly since I purchased it due to SlimServer and community development. It has the reliability of a good toaster, except now it makes coffee, too. I've had no such luck with any other computer gadget I've purchased--and there's been quite a number of those.

Food for thought, perhaps. Cheers!