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View Full Version : Slimserver vs. UPNP and Linkstation vs. Via Epia System (long)



0xdeadbeef
2005-11-13, 04:45
Hi there,

since at least a year I'm thinking about replacing my CD changer (which holds something below 200 CDs at the moment) by a more contemporary and comfortable solution. Though it has a nice display and jog dial on the device and also a two way remote with lcd screen, I always missed the possibility to control it via the PC. Ok, there would have been a solution, but I was not willing to pay some hundred Euros for this. Also there was no database support and as only a few of my CDs feature CD-Text, I would have to enter each track information manually (which I did for the Album titles aready).

To be honest, what I really want is an MP3 Jukebox with digital out, a great display, a great remote and the possibility to control it via the PC. And of course I want complete access to the files that are on the Jukebox. I first came across the Hifidelio (http://hifidelio.net/) last year and hoped it would be the thing to get, but up to now there is no usable Web Interface and the advertised "advanced" remote with lcd screen is not available yet either. Also, to be honest, I consider the Hifidelio's LCD to small an unreadable from a distance, especially keeping in mind there is no other way to control the device or see what it's playing.

Lately I began to realize that, most companies won't produce MP3 Jukeboxes (though I think there is need for this), because they fear the whole DRM/music industry complex. And as long as there's no real competition, the few available Jukeboxes will be expensive and lacking features.
Interesting enough the availability for network music players is growing while that for hifi jukeboxes is stagnating, so while I (as most other people I guess) don't really need a network player, I accepted I will probably have to go for that.

Months later my decision is limited to a Soundbridge+TwonkyVision combination versus a Squeezebox+Slimserver combination. Both lack control buttons (and jog dial) on the device, both have crappy remotes (compared to my old cd changer) but both have nice displays and options for better remote control, which most other network players lack - and then I could go for the Hifidelio instead. So while I'm not enthusiastic, I think both would be satisfying solutions.

What I like about the soundbridge is that it's supporting UPNP, so it's sure I can get it running with TwonkyVision installed on a (more or less) cheap NAS device (Buffalo Linkstation or whatever). Also there are promising developments for a free PC/PockerPC based control (http://www.tl-it.de/media/pages/visualmr.php). And generally, I think UPNP is the way to go, since I can easily replace the Client by a more comfortabel client as soons as I find one.
What I don't like is the price tag of the M2000, only WEP support, the 2 line display ot the M1000 and especially the connnections under the "end caps". Well, the 1001 seems to have the connections on the back where they should be, but then it seems to upsample everything to 48kHz which is somehow disturbing.

What I like about the Squeezebox 3 is the great display, the "ok" price (at least compared to M2000 with same vertical resolution, though of course the M2000 display itself is much larger), the looks, support for WPA and especially, the great webinterface. For testing, I installed Slimserver and SoftSqueeze on my PC and this is very close to what I imagined.
I'm however a little irritated that the SB3 shows only two lines of text on every screenshot I saw. Also Softsqueeze seems to show only 2 lines (one small, one big). Isn't it possible to get 4 lines like on the Soundbridge e.g. for playlist selection?
Indeed, when comparing screenshots of the SB3 (and Softsqueeze testing) with those of the Soundbridge M1000/M2000, the Soundbridges seems to show a much more sensible "now playing" information consisting of Album/Artist/Playtime, while the Squeezenbox wastes one line for "now playing" and only shows track title OR artist OR album. Is it possible to change this?

What I really don't like is, that - while every other company goes for UPNP - I'm stuck with a proprietary solution. I mean, better a nice prorietary solution than a lacking "universal" one. However, going for the Slimserver/Squeezebox limits my possibilites to expand the system in the future quite a lot. I might want a cheapo radio clock kind of device for the bedroom, but with the Slimserver solution I'm stuck with Squeezeboxes and a few other devices supporting Slimserver. Also, I feel there will be lots of nice UPNP controllers coming up (e.g. http://www.homecontrol.philips.com/) which I could use with a UPNP setup, but not with Slimserver.
Last but not least, Slimserver seems to be quite resource consuming compared to TwonkyVision. So installing it on a low end NAS device will be more critical than with TwonkyVision (which obviously runs nicely in a NSLU2 with only 32MB RAM).

Which brings us to the last point: If I neglect the whole UPNP issue and go for a slimserver setup, I'm concerned that even a Linknstation Gigabit with 128MB of RAM and a 266MHz PPC CPU will be short of RAM and CPU ressources. So I wonder if it wouldn't be a better to build a Mini-ITX-System based on a VIA Epia board. Which again, if small and silent, will easily cost 400 Euros or even more.
Though I browsed several forums for some weeks now, I didn't really come to a conclusion whether a Linkstation Gigabit is sufficient for playback and smooth web interface or if it necessary to go for a small Via Epia system.

Apart from that, I really wonder what you as Squeezebox enthusiast think about UPNP and the lack thereof in your favorite toy.
I also wished, I would get some feedback about the "now playing" issue. Is it possible to show Album/Artist and Track title instead of this annoying "now playing"?

Patrick Dixon
2005-11-13, 04:55
Is it possible to show Album/Artist and Track title instead of this annoying "now playing"?Yes - you can use the MusicInfoSCR plugin to use a screensaver to display in almost any format you want.

0xdeadbeef
2005-11-13, 07:36
Yes - you can use the MusicInfoSCR plugin to use a screensaver to display in almost any format you want.

Though this is a nice addition, this doesn't seem like a 100% solution to me. Firstly, still only 2 lines can be displayed,though with 32 pixels, it should be possible to view 3 or 4 lines (like the M2000 does).

Furthermore, scrolling seems to be disabled in this screensaver and when enabling the small spectrum, it is inserted at the lower right, wasting the space above. Both seems to limit the benefits of this plugin.

All in all it seems the SB3 is wasting its vertical resolution, which a shame and leads me to believe it's only on par with the M1000 regarding the (2 line) display.

Anyway: any comments on the other issues (especially UPNP)?

Patrick Dixon
2005-11-13, 07:59
Furthermore, scrolling seems to be disabled in this screensaver Not AFAIK - scrolling seem to work for me.


All in all it seems the SB3 is wasting its vertical resolutionSB2/3 only does 2 lines and 2 lines is fine for me. With 4 lines of text, I doubt I could read it from my sofa. But maybe you sit closer than me, or have younger eyes?

SS/SB doesn't support UPNP. If you want it, then you'll have to look elsewhere I'm afraid. I personally think that the biggest investment is in ripping all your music, so being 'compatible' at that level is really all I care about. There are other ways to use 3rd party 'remotes' with SS - see the Nokia 770 thread for instance.

mherger
2005-11-13, 14:18
> Furthermore, scrolling seems to be disabled in this screensaver and
> when enabling the small spectrum, it is inserted at the lower right,
> wasting the space above. Both seems to limit the benefits of this
> plugin.

What do you mean by "scrolling is disabled"?

The spectrum's display can be changed by repeatedly hitting the "now
playing" button (or from the web interface). You can also have it
fullscreen as background. MusicInfoSCR does not change (and of course not
limit!) that behaviour compared to the "now playing" screensaver.

> All in all it seems the SB3 is wasting its vertical resolution, which a
> shame and leads me to believe it's only on par with the M1000 regarding
> the (2 line) display.

It's not wasting it's resolution. It's using it to display readable fonts.
I'm sure you don't consider your printer's 600dpi a waste of resolution as
your 9 needle dot matrix printer from the eighties did print the same text
on one page. :-)

> Anyway: any comments on the other issues (especially UPNP)?

I can't comment on UPNP. Lack of need I never investigated into that topic.

--

Michael

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0xdeadbeef
2005-11-13, 16:38
What do you mean by "scrolling is disabled"?

Ok, sorry, scrolling works. Maybe I just didn't wait enough as I observed some overdraw. Can't reproduce it though.
However if there's a progess bar behind a long string, it's shorteded to something like 1 pixel width. Wouldn't it be possible to give the progress bar a minimum and maximum width?



The spectrum's display can be changed by repeatedly hitting the "now playing" button (or from the web interface). You can also have it fullscreen as background. MusicInfoSCR does not change (and of course not limit!) that behaviour compared to the "now playing" screensaver.

I just though that when displaying a small line and a big line, the small spectrum could just use the bug line's height. Thus e.g. the icons (of shuffle etc.) could be displayed above the spectrum.
But agreed, this is a minor issue.



It's not wasting it's resolution. It's using it to display readable fonts.
I'm sure you don't consider your printer's 600dpi a waste of resolution as your 9 needle dot matrix printer from the eighties did print the same text on one page. :-)

Hm, I can read the dot matrix display on my CG changer from quite a distance and one line uses exactly 8 pixels in height. Might not be beautiful, but looks ok from a distance and is readable from 2 or 3 meters without any problems. So I would have guessed that if the Soundbridge manages to view 4 lines with 32 pixels, the SB3 should as well. Well, I guess I can live without it, but I guess it would come in handy when browsing playlists etc.



I can't comment on UPNP. Lack of need I never investigated into that topic.

Hm, yeah, I just have the impression that UPNP is the future and abyout every streaming and NAS device coming out is advertised as UPNP capable. Indeed it's a nice thing to buy a Hifidelio or NAS with UPNP and know for sure that it will serve any UPNP client, not matter if it's from Roku, Philips or whatever. Additionally, the control feature allows to control clients from "intelligent" remotes that allow to browse though all available media.
Sounds like the better solution in the long run, however I must admit that at this very moment, Slimserver wins because of its great web interface.

Any comments on the "Linkstation vs. Via Epia" issue?
If I go for Via Epia, I want it small and fanless and consuming as little power as possible, which again results in a high price with a small HD because of 2.5" limitations and slimline optical drive.
I'd just like to get some impression how the performance of playback, browsing and web interface is on a Gigabit linkstation (266MHz PPC, 128MB RAM) compared to a medium Via system (800MHz C3, 256MB RAM) running Linux/SlimCD.

Patrick Dixon
2005-11-14, 01:32
Wouldn't it be possible to give the progress bar a minimum and maximum width?This is a good idea, I like the elapsed playtime on my MusicInfo screen, but it seem to come with the progress bar which gets squashed up to almost nothing when the text to it's left is long. I'd be happy to ditch the PG altogether, but IAE, it would be good if it was a consistent width.

mherger
2005-11-14, 04:14
> Hm, I can read the dot matrix display on my CG changer from quite a
> distance and one line uses exactly 8 pixels in height. Might not be
> beautiful, but looks ok from a distance and is readable from 2 or 3
> meters without any problems. So I would have guessed that if the
> Soundbridge manages to view 4 lines with 32 pixels, the SB3 should as
> well.

Even if the SB3 could display 4 lines, they'd be lisible at a short
distance, but not from a few meters. The display has high resolution, but
is not large.

> I'd just like to get some impression how the performance of playback,
> browsing and web interface is on a Gigabit linkstation (266MHz PPC,
> 128MB RAM) compared to a medium Via system (800MHz C3, 256MB RAM)
> running Linux/SlimCD.

I have (of course) the latter running (at 600MHz, 512MB though). I've been
using it with four concourrent players. The player interface is very
smooth, web interface is ok.

--

Michael

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Help translate SlimServer by using the
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mherger
2005-11-14, 04:19
>> Wouldn't it be possible to give the progress bar a minimum and maximum
>> width?

There is a maximum size (half the screen width). Minimum is, ahem, 1
pixel? :-)

> This is a good idea, I like the elapsed playtime on my MusicInfo screen,
> but it seem to come with the progress bar which gets squashed up to
> almost nothing when the text to it's left is long. I'd be happy to
> ditch the PG altogether, but IAE, it would be good if it was a
> consistent width.

The idea behind it being resized was to minimze need for scrolling texts.
I prefer having the most text possible on screen, but can live without the
progress bar.

--

Michael

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Help translate SlimServer by using the
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Patrick Dixon
2005-11-14, 06:25
The idea behind it being resized was to minimze need for scrolling texts.
I prefer having the most text possible on screen, but can live without the
progress bar.Me too, but I'd like to loose the progress bar altogether (I hate the inconsistency!). Is that possible? What I'd really prefer would be to have elapsed time/total time (eg 2:37/5:44).

mherger
2005-11-14, 06:36
>> progress bar.Me too, but I'd like to loose the progress bar altogether
>> (I hate the
> inconsistency!). Is that possible? What I'd really prefer would be to
> have elapsed time/total time (eg 2:37/5:44).

Oh, now I see! You want to get rid of the progressbar all together (as
this was possible with SliMP3, I thin)? I will see what I can do.

--

Michael

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0xdeadbeef
2005-11-14, 10:33
I have (of course) the latter running (at 600MHz, 512MB though). I've been using it with four concourrent players. The player interface is very smooth, web interface is ok.


Are 512MB necessary for SlimCD to keep everything in RAM? Not that it would make much difference in price, I just happen to have a 256MB module at hands which I cpuld reuse and the mini-ITX boards usually seem to have only one slot.

Regarding the web interface: what does "ok" mean? Is it already sluggish or still fun to use? I mean, I could go up to 1GHz with heatpipe cooling though this increases price and power consumption.

mherger
2005-11-14, 12:54
> Are 512MB necessary for SlimCD to keep everything in RAM? Not that it
> would make much difference in price, I just happen to have a 256MB
> module at hands which I cpuld reuse and the mini-ITX boards usually
> seem to have only one slot.

256 should be fine. If I remember right (I can't access the machine right
now), the processes use less than 100MB. But as the logs, the database
file and everything is stored in a ram disk, I prefer to have some space
left. There's no log rotation for the slimserver.log. Running the server
with some chatty log parameters accidentally active can bring the box to a
halt :-/.

> Regarding the web interface: what does "ok" mean? Is it already

Browsing albums takes about 3-4 seconds for the first page to show.
Browsing artwork is rather slow with 50 albums on a page (I have about
6500 songs). This might be due to the harddisk: it's a 2.5" disk running
at 4200rpm. I chose it deliberatly for it's low power consumption and
noise level. Speed is part of the price I pay for this.

> sluggish or still fun to use?

Faster is better. But I wouldn't say it's a pain. I'm mainly using the
lightweight handheld skin (and use it often). This is still fun.

> I mean, I could go up to 1GHz with
> heatpipe cooling though this increases price and power consumption.

I have another system (where I am right now :-)) with the same music
collection. This is a C3/1GHz, 120GB - you can feel the difference. Browse
albums takes 2 seconds, the 50 coverarts show up after about 10 seconds

--

Michael

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0xdeadbeef
2005-11-14, 13:44
Ok, thanks for the detailed reply.
This also tells me the linkstation will be way too slow and I should go for at least 1GHz.

balson
2005-12-12, 05:15
I'm new to all of this, but the reason why I am exploring a SB and ignoring all other is because you can run the SlimServer on *any* platform at all. You are only limited in SlimServer Platform choices by PERL. If Perl runs on the platform, so will SlimServer.

This for me was absolutely key. I don't care about Open SOurceness or proprietaryness, I care about what platform the server software runs on. And for me that just so happens to be Solaris from Sun.

Just my -.02.


Jim

0xdeadbeef
2005-12-12, 11:33
Well, I was already convinced ;)

What really drew me towards the Squeezebox was the great webinterface and the possibility to try everything out without paying a cent. During my test phase I also learned to appreciate the very active plugin community and developers posting in this forum.