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mikerob
2006-02-22, 14:04
Slim Devices Squeezebox 3 [MacUser]
COMPANY: Slim Devices
PRICE: 229 (194 ex VAT)
RATING: 4/5 mice
ISSUE: 22 4 DATE: Feb 06

Verdict: We would have liked to see it come in at least 30 cheaper, but otherwise it's still worth investing in

Squeezebox 3 is the latest incarnation of the popular music streaming device from Slim Devices. We looked at the wireless version of the Squeezebox but there is a cheaper wired option if you don't need or want cableless connectivity. The wireless version can also be used as a wired device.

Squeezebox can output audio through either standard analogue RCA jacks, digital optical out or digital coaxial out. There's also a 3.5mm jack for headphones. The unit has a high-quality two-line display for navigating tracks and other functions and a supplied remote control operates all the functionality.

Setting up the Squeezebox is simple. Install the Slim Server software from the supplied CD and restart you Mac. This installs a System Preferences pane that allows you to run the software at your behest or all the time. It also gives you access to the Web browser interface so you can control the Squeezebox from your Mac should you so desire.

With the SlimServer software running, plug in the Squeezebox and follow the on-screen instructions. We were up and running within a few minutes with no problems whatsoever. The only down side to this approach is that your Mac has to be on at all times. The Squeezebox then has access to all the music in your music folder, with the exception of any music downloaded from the iTunes music store as Apple has so far refused to licence the ability to play these track.

Apart from the ability to listen to your music library, you can dip into Internet radio and the SqueezeNetwork. The SqueezeNetwork provides an alarm clock, access to RSS news feeds and natural sounds. The good news here is that your Mac doesn't have to be on to access this network, it just has to have an active Internet connection.

The remote control feels a little cheap when you consider the attention to detail that's gone into the Squeezebox. The brushed metal finish of the unit itself is let down by the cheap white plastic used on its remote.

Apart from the audio capabilities of the Squeezebox, it has some good additional abilities. The wireless Squeezebox can act as a bridge to extend your existing network. One nice touch is the ability to scroll RSS newsfeeds while listening to music from your library. You can read the headlines from any site, although some popular ones are already programmed into the Squeezebox.

The RSS newsfeed reader and wireless bridge capabilities are very impressive and having all your music in one easy-to-use unit is great if you listen to a lot of music and want to move your Mac back into the office or another room in the house while making sure you can still access your music.

We really enjoyed using the Squeezebox, and as a replacement for a CD player or Mac in the living room it's an excellent device. The range of audio outputs is excellent, catering as it does for both optical and coaxial digital. You still have to connect the Squeezebox to an appropriate amplifier but overall the implementation is good. The price is a little too high for our liking - we would have liked to see it come in at least 30 cheaper, but otherwise it's still worth investing in.

By Christopher Brennan