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View Full Version : Squeezebox Controller - The good, the bad, and the ......



mctubster
2008-05-24, 23:38
Hi all,

I have owned a Squeezebox 2 for a couple of years, and on the spur of the moment, just bought a Squeezebox Duet. One advantage with the Logitech buyout, is that you can actually buy Slimdevices products in Australia!

The good: The controller is very responsive, has reasonable wireless range, and the battery life is good considering it appears to be ready to go at a moments notice. So a big tick for the OS.

The bad: The hardware. The screen. The scroll-wheel. The screen is embarassing compared to my 2 year old phone, it is terrible compared to my iPhone. Outside in direct sunlight it is unreadable.

The scoll-wheel ..... again the same as the screen. This would be acceptable for 2002, maybe 2005, but it is 2008! A physical scroll wheel? If you are going to rip something off, at least do it properly.

Scratches: I had a quick read when I received the Duet last week and peps are complaining about it scratching easily. I havent added any to the front of my controller yet, but out of the box, even under the Apple styled plastic wrap there were scratches and or skuffs on the back of the controller and the front of the player.

Summary. Software is almost there. Hardware, Logitech, please go talk to whomever builds Apple's gear.

Cheers
Steve

chipbutty
2008-05-25, 00:39
Agree with much of that. I like the controller on the whole and it's a definite step forward but that scroll wheel which is so intrinsic to the overall feel of the device is just awful.

I don't think the ipod is perfect but Logitech would have been wise to try and reproduce the touch and feel of the ipod scroll wheel.

I don't have any problems with the screen as I don't use it outside. Though I did take it outside recently and you really can't read it in daylight, so I can see why that would be an issue for some.

It's a reasonable controller but hugely overpriced when I look at its annoyances.

BigTony
2008-05-25, 00:50
Havign had a look at the controller, I have to say spend the same money on a Nokia N800 (or 810) and use the N770 skin. It works great with SC7, and is a very good way of navigating even a large music collection.
And of course, its a fully functioning Internet Tablet, so you can read e-mail, chat via voip (even video chat) use IM, IRC, play movies, play music (even flac's) search the web, and even control all your PC's via rDesktop! You'll never need to get off the couch again.

If the duet was say half the current price, then there'd be a big enough price difference to argue buying one.

BT

radish
2008-05-25, 10:38
Well I have to say I disagree with most of this. The screen is fine, could be a bit bigger but whilst it isn't as good as the iphone screen it also cost half as much. The physical scroll wheel is so much better than the unusable (IMHO) ipod one it's not even funny.

As for the 770/800, it's not even close. I got a 770 a couple of months before I got the SBC and it's been gathering dust ever since. Whilst the n770 skin is a great piece of engineering a web interface is never going to be as responsive as a native app, it's just not possible.

I do agree that the standalone SBC is a little overpriced though, my guess is they're trying to recoup what must have been a very large software dev investment.

Chrobrego
2008-05-25, 11:01
I am overall very satisfied with the duet controller

However I'm missing two things regarding software
* Rate song
* Display Lyrics (plugin not fully operational today)

Regarding hardware, there there's small loose on the battery back cover that you can fell when you press the buttons. Does not give good impress for such supposed high-end product. But that's almost a psychological detail...

However I believe that such dedicated device will be at the end more performing for its primary music player function than any adaption for other devices like Iphone or Nokia.

pablolie
2008-05-25, 11:26
i would think there'd be a monumental lawsuit if the touch&feel of the iPod was recreated elsewhere... :-)

i agree the scrolling doesn't work - whether it's calibration or it simply is flawed i can't say. with big libraries it is very cumbersome to move to where one needs to go, quickly.

more worrisome for me are the connectivity issues - while they have become less disruptive when i changed the wireless power saving settings (disabling them) as per forum recommendation, they will still on occasion appear and one has to wrestle the device into submission to reconnect. i have demoted the Duet to bedroom system because of that - when i am in my listening environment i want to listen to music and not think about wireless settings.

the concept is beautiful - i agree with time the perfect thing would be something with a bigger screen. and the ability to read through album notes.

autopilot
2008-05-26, 01:23
A physical scroll wheel? If you are going to rip something off, at least do it properly...

.... please go talk to whomever builds Apple's gear.



The Apple iPod (designed by a Brit, built in China) was not invented, designed or used first by Apple. I remember devices from years back which use this kind of thing. But why is it ripping something off anyway? Is Logitech also ripping of Microsoft because they both make Mice too?

FredFredrickson
2008-05-26, 06:22
I'm in love with this system, dispite the few hitches I've run into here and there, for the most part, this thing works great.

That being said, I'm dying for the ability to calibrate the wheel on the controller. I just feel like moving it just a little bit can go too far. it's difficult to use. A little more tolerance would make it similar to the ipod wheel...

PRGeno
2008-05-26, 07:50
I'm pretty pleased with the controller as well, except for one critical item, the screen.

I've been searching for the perfect controller solution for my 6 SB3 network for several years. The Controller is wonderful indoors, but the screen is simply unreadable outdoors until night fall.

The one thing I really (REALLY) need is a controller device that works on our patio for parties. Unfortunately the Controller isn't it due to the screen.

Very disappointing, as I like everything else about the unit. Alas, I continue my search for the perfect solution.

mctubster
2008-05-26, 15:03
radish: If you compare the hardware you get for the money, compare the iPod Touch to the Squeezebox Controller. Both have wireless, a screen, battery etc etc. The iPeng skin is amazing on the iPhone / Touch, but it isn't instantanious, and does not have dedicated buttons.


autopilot: I guess I was referring to the capacitive scroll wheel, that Apple progressed to over the years, after having various issues with aging, mechanical scroll wheels. To me it feels like Apple made these mistakes and started using something a lot more durable and sensitive.

Why start again in 2002?

The scrolling through large lists is what gets me on the Controller. Try a recent vintage iPod, open the song list. Get some speed up and it also goes into "Letter Mode" But on the iPod, it is controllable and intuitive.

Crap I'm sounding like an Apple fanboy. To me they make great hardware, but some of their software restrictions almost kill it for me!

Cheers
Steve

nacmacfeegle
2008-05-27, 00:21
PRGeno, "The Controller is wonderful indoors, but the screen is simply unreadable outdoors until night fall."

Isn't this the case with most portable LCD screens, eg phones, cameras, laptops etc. Most of my devices with screens are pretty much unusable under the blistering Aberdeenshire sun.

Is there a viable alternative such as OLED etc that would counter the Scottish solar glare?

autopilot
2008-05-27, 02:52
autopilot: I guess I was referring to the capacitive scroll wheel, that Apple progressed to over the years, after having various issues with aging, mechanical scroll wheels. To me it feels like Apple made these mistakes and started using something a lot more durable and sensitive.

Actually, Apple copied Creative (not just the physical interface, but the GUI/menu system too). To be fair, Apple did a good job and it's a classic piece of consumer technology, i love iPod's, but Apple can't be given full credit sorry. I own 2 iPod Classic's and really like them, but i would still prefer a mechanical scroll wheel in many situations - when i turn it i know it's turning. The iPod's wheel durable and works well in a portable device, but I often find the iPod scrolling very inconsistent. It would need a lot more improvement before i wanted to use on in home.

But my point is that SD have not ripped Apple off, which is what you are saying. That's just silly, as is the whole 200* thing. It's not very clever and pretty pointless. But nothings perfect and it still needs improving - but you can bet you grandma's teeth that SD will come out with fixes/improvements/new features a lot faster than Apple ever will. SD are such a forward thinking and cutting edge company, that i guess the many thing they are getting slammed for there Scroll wheel could be taken as a compliment.

mctubster
2008-05-27, 04:01
Isn't this the case with most portable LCD screens, eg phones, cameras, laptops etc. Most of my devices with screens are pretty much unusable under the blistering Aberdeenshire sun.

Is there a viable alternative such as OLED etc that would counter the Scottish solar glare?

Try an iPhone / Touch ... The screen is amazing even under direct sunlight

peter
2008-05-27, 04:09
mctubster wrote:
> nacmacfeegle;305728 Wrote:
>
>> Isn't this the case with most portable LCD screens, eg phones, cameras,
>> laptops etc. Most of my devices with screens are pretty much unusable
>> under the blistering Aberdeenshire sun.
>>
>> Is there a viable alternative such as OLED etc that would counter the
>> Scottish solar glare?
>>
>
> Try an iPhone / Touch ... The screen is amazing even under direct
> sunlight
>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transreflective_liquid_crystal_display

I haven't really had any problems yet, but I agree that the controller
should work outside.

Regards,
Peter

mctubster
2008-05-27, 04:22
Actually, Apple copied Creative (not just the physical interface, but the GUI/menu system too).

Really? The Physical Interface? I'm pretty sure Apple was the first to use a scroll wheel on a mp3 player. I had the original Nomad Jukebox Zen, and the next Creative Zen (20GB). That was around when Apple came out with the first iPod.

I used the term ripped off losely, but in my opinion the scroll-wheel on the Controller leaves something to be desired. How much this can be addressed by s/w updates, I guess we will see.

Sorry but given the parent companies ability to innovate, I would put my money on a UI specialising company like Apple anyday (sadly)

Waiting for the next update!

Cheers
Steve

Enoch Soames
2008-05-27, 04:22
My body won't tolerate direct sunlight (I blame my troglodytic ancestors) so screen readability in sunlight isn't really an issue for me, though I understand why more robust outdoor types might be dissatisfied.

I do wish the scroll wheel were a little more controllable - it goes sloooow and then suddenly I've skipped two-thirds of the alphabet - but I'm getting better with practice, and my assumption is that controllability can be improved in a future software update.

My biggest complaint is cosmetic: I'm sorry that the designers saw fit to follow Apple's lead in swathing their expensive creation in soft, easily scratchable plastic. It's particularly galling because the matte-finish plastic that surrounds the buttons is great - resistant to scratching and fingerprints, and very classy-looking. Why didn't they use that stuff for the entire case?

andynormancx
2008-05-27, 04:26
I'm pretty sure Apple was the first to use a scroll wheel on a mp3 player.
First on a portable maybe, but definitely not first on an MP3 player. The empeg Mk2/Rio Car in car player had a scroll wheel back in 1999, though admittedly it is a lot smaller than the one on the iPod.

Still using my empegs everyday...

slydog75
2008-05-27, 07:48
I am loving the remote, but do have two complaints (both previously mentioned).


1) I bought this unit primarily for use on my deck and yes, it is nearly impossible to see outdoors even when it's cloudy out.

2)The transition from slow, item by item scrolling to alphabetical scrolling is to severe. I'll be scrolling track to track very slowly, then suddenbly BAM I've jumped from the Bs to the Js in the blink of an eye. I'm assuming this issue can be fixed with firmware updates.

PRGeno
2008-05-27, 16:05
PRGeno, "The Controller is wonderful indoors, but the screen is simply unreadable outdoors until night fall."

Isn't this the case with most portable LCD screens, eg phones, cameras, laptops etc. Most of my devices with screens are pretty much unusable under the blistering Aberdeenshire sun.

Is there a viable alternative such as OLED etc that would counter the Scottish solar glare?

I'm not talking about blistering sunlight. The screen is unusable even in the shade, or on a cloudy day. The ambient light of the outdoors is enough to wash out the screen, when my several other devices, my Centro, my HP iPaq, and my HP tablet computer, still are readable.

It really is a shame, because I like everything else about the device (well, like slydog75, I too think the transition to the quick scrolling is way too quick).

Brian Ritchie
2008-05-28, 15:22
2)The transition from slow, item by item scrolling to alphabetical scrolling is to severe. I'll be scrolling track to track very slowly, then suddenbly BAM I've jumped from the Bs to the Js in the blink of an eye. I'm assuming this issue can be fixed with firmware updates.

I'd like to see it become tunable, just as I can fine-tune my mouse behaviour. Then (perhaps with a bit of patience!) I should be able to get it to run at the speeds I want, which may not be the same as anyone else.

I do like the iPod scrolling behaviour (though the rate isn't tunable), where once it's scrolling in per-letter mode it stays that way until I let go, so I can go through the alphabet slowly. If I slow down again on the SBC, I just get dumped into some distant part of the library, which is never where I want.

-- Brian

simplefi
2008-05-29, 06:00
I just received my controller and I have to agree with a lot that has been said. Here are my thoughts:

I had no trouble whatsoever setting up the controller out of the box. I downloaded and installed the software and was up and running in less than 10 minutes.

The SBC is excellent at what is does - controlling your SB/receiver/transporter. I like that you can just pick up the remote and start using it without having to wait for it to boot up or re-connect to the wifi. This was what made the N800 so unusable IMO. Does anyone know how the iTouch behaves in this regard? The speed and responsiveness of the SBC is also good. I also think that the screen is very sufficient for its purpose.

But here are the deal-breakers for me:
First and foremost is the scroll wheel. I find that it is just too inaccurate. You would expect the cursor to start moving as soon as you started scrolling, but this is not the case. What gets me is that you have to scroll about 30 degrees before the cursor starts to move. This is not intuitive. Don't even try scrolling down a list one-at-a-time.

Once the cursor starts going, it just goes. You have to be able to stop on a dime when it gets to where you want it to be or else it goes too far. Once I see an item on the screen I want to hi-lite, about 30% of the time it either goes too far or not far enough. This is even more true when scrolling long lists or searching.

I think this would be MUCH less of a problem if the scroll wheel had detents to provide tactile feedback. After all, it is a mechanical wheel. But nope, it's just smooth scrolling, almost as if it were trying to emulate a touch pad scroll wheel. The 'feel' just isn't right.

Compared to the IR remote, I think the only advantage the controller has is its screen. That is a big advantage, but its only one. The IR remote has dedicated buttons for all the common functions, whereas the SBC has most of them in menus. Plus the IR remote is superior for searching (lazy search!) and jumping to positions in lists. And for some reason, the playlist entries on the controller are NOT numbered. WHY!? Sometimes I wish the SBC was an IR remote with a screen tacked on!

andynormancx
2008-05-29, 06:12
And for some reason, the playlist entries on the controller are NOT numbered.

What would that achieve ? There are no number keys to press on the Controller, so what use would numbers be ?

For what it's worth, I don't have the same problems with scrolling that you have. I can scroll one item at a time and I don't often over shoot.

I do wish however that the Controller had a keypad on it, it would make things much easier. I'd have happily had a half inch longer Controller with a small mobile phone sided 0-9/A-Z keypad at the bottom.

simplefi
2008-05-29, 06:37
What would that achieve ? There are no number keys to press on the Controller, so what use would numbers be ?

For what it's worth, I don't have the same problems with scrolling that you have. I can scroll one item at a time and I don't often over shoot.


When listening to albums, I prefer seeing the track numbers. And it would be nice to see where you are numerically in a playlist just to give you a feel of the overall length and position in the list.

As far as the scrolling, I only overshoot some of the time but it's annoying enough nonetheless. I have only had the controller a short time, so maybe I need to get used to it.

andynormancx
2008-05-29, 08:14
When listening to albums, I prefer seeing the track numbers. And it would be nice to see where you are numerically in a playlist just to give you a feel of the overall length and position in the list.

The SBC's Now Playing screen has an "x of y" display at the top of it. Or at least it does on the Current Track part of the screen, unfortunately the playlist part of the screen doesn't have an "x of y" display.