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View Full Version : My Week with a Squeezebox Radio (a reivew)



mrkerr
2010-01-07, 10:24
I've had the roku setup on my system for the past three years or so and haven't had any major problems with it. Unfortunately, its an abandoned piece of hardware so I've been looking at replacing it with a squeezebox of late; when the Radio was announced I figured it would be good gifts for my teenage daughters and a chance for me to test the squeezebox waters. What follows is my overall impressions.

I like the looks of the radio; I bought the red version. I like the screen (nice to have the graphics over roku's rather limited text screen) and the sound is fine for what it is.

I like the Pandora and internet radio features (Pandora is what the girls use most on the radio) and it works great and reliably so far. The roku could handle internet radio as well but again, the interface on the radio makes things a bit simpler.

The menu tree on the radio took some getting use to but the girls and I have gotten better at it with time. I had some difficulties in the beginning finding some of the stuff buried in the menus; a menu tree in the user guide or on-line would have been helpful.

Initial start-up documentation was adequate. Setting up the radio, accessing the wireless network, and doing Pandora and internet radio was very easy and worked great.

And then i installed Squeezebox Server...

The next step was to get the radios to access the girls music libraries. In the roku, its pretty simple. iTunes has to be running on the computer with the music you want, and the roku then "sees" the library and can access the music. if you want to switch to another computer's music and its running iTunes, then its just a click to change to that library. Very simple.

SBS seems to be over complicated. Granted, the plug-ins and stuff give it some nice options but overall, it just seems for the most part, unnecessary. Using iTunes was much easier; not having to worry about what directories store what or having the SBS rescan libraries. I have the music on a network drive and my PS3 can access the music directly without any extra software as can the roku; not sure why we have to have the SBS running all the time.

Granted, it wouldn't be a big deal to run SBS if it was just a better piece of software. In just the week I've been running it I've had problems with it just quitting on its own, disconnecting from the radios at random times, music scans dieing mid-way. I've spent several hours on the forums searching for similar problems and finding that I'm not alone...seems to be several out there that have had similar issues. I've tried many of the fixes with mixed results; I've fixed the scan problem by killing my anti-virus (the excluding file types didn't work) and turning my firewall off completely (none of the recommended firewall settings seem to fix anything).

It also runs slow and just getting to the control panel or web interface takes forever. Frankly, the whole thing seems like a beta version...I could be a bit more forgiving if the squeezboxes were brand new products but the server should be more mature than this by now.

It's also klunky...many of the settings and options aren't readily apparent what they require or even do (it took a while for me to figure out what "use iTunes" did and I still can't get any applets to show up on the radios) and again, the scanning thing seems to be unnecessary. Why can't it just "look" at the music directly without scanning like all of the other media servers do? I'm also having pretty much hit or miss luck with getting album artwork to show up.

It would also help if there was better documentation available for SBS; the manual barely addresses it and the wiki isn't very helpful either. So far the forums are the only avenue to really try and get your hands around the thing which is a shame.

So, overall, I'd give the internet radio and Pandora and Facebook aspects of the radio and the hardware itself an "A"...but the my music feature gets pulled down to a "C-" with the klunky and unreliable SBS. The girls are happy with the non-my music features and simply use their ipods to plug into the radio when "my music" is misbehaving...I'll hold off on buying a Duet until SBS gets better..and just use the PS3 and roku to stream music in the mean time.

socistep
2010-01-08, 11:42
I've had the roku setup on my system for the past three years or so and haven't had any major problems with it. Unfortunately, its an abandoned piece of hardware so I've been looking at replacing it with a squeezebox of late; when the Radio was announced I figured it would be good gifts for my teenage daughters and a chance for me to test the squeezebox waters. What follows is my overall impressions.

I like the looks of the radio; I bought the red version. I like the screen (nice to have the graphics over roku's rather limited text screen) and the sound is fine for what it is.

I like the Pandora and internet radio features (Pandora is what the girls use most on the radio) and it works great and reliably so far. The roku could handle internet radio as well but again, the interface on the radio makes things a bit simpler.

The menu tree on the radio took some getting use to but the girls and I have gotten better at it with time. I had some difficulties in the beginning finding some of the stuff buried in the menus; a menu tree in the user guide or on-line would have been helpful.

Initial start-up documentation was adequate. Setting up the radio, accessing the wireless network, and doing Pandora and internet radio was very easy and worked great.

And then i installed Squeezebox Server...

The next step was to get the radios to access the girls music libraries. In the roku, its pretty simple. iTunes has to be running on the computer with the music you want, and the roku then "sees" the library and can access the music. if you want to switch to another computer's music and its running iTunes, then its just a click to change to that library. Very simple.

SBS seems to be over complicated. Granted, the plug-ins and stuff give it some nice options but overall, it just seems for the most part, unnecessary. Using iTunes was much easier; not having to worry about what directories store what or having the SBS rescan libraries. I have the music on a network drive and my PS3 can access the music directly without any extra software as can the roku; not sure why we have to have the SBS running all the time.

Granted, it wouldn't be a big deal to run SBS if it was just a better piece of software. In just the week I've been running it I've had problems with it just quitting on its own, disconnecting from the radios at random times, music scans dieing mid-way. I've spent several hours on the forums searching for similar problems and finding that I'm not alone...seems to be several out there that have had similar issues. I've tried many of the fixes with mixed results; I've fixed the scan problem by killing my anti-virus (the excluding file types didn't work) and turning my firewall off completely (none of the recommended firewall settings seem to fix anything).

It also runs slow and just getting to the control panel or web interface takes forever. Frankly, the whole thing seems like a beta version...I could be a bit more forgiving if the squeezboxes were brand new products but the server should be more mature than this by now.

It's also klunky...many of the settings and options aren't readily apparent what they require or even do (it took a while for me to figure out what "use iTunes" did and I still can't get any applets to show up on the radios) and again, the scanning thing seems to be unnecessary. Why can't it just "look" at the music directly without scanning like all of the other media servers do? I'm also having pretty much hit or miss luck with getting album artwork to show up.

It would also help if there was better documentation available for SBS; the manual barely addresses it and the wiki isn't very helpful either. So far the forums are the only avenue to really try and get your hands around the thing which is a shame.

So, overall, I'd give the internet radio and Pandora and Facebook aspects of the radio and the hardware itself an "A"...but the my music feature gets pulled down to a "C-" with the klunky and unreliable SBS. The girls are happy with the non-my music features and simply use their ipods to plug into the radio when "my music" is misbehaving...I'll hold off on buying a Duet until SBS gets better..and just use the PS3 and roku to stream music in the mean time.

Hi There

I agree that SBS doesn't look that great and the functionality needs improvement, however I've never personally had any performance issues with it, both from a Dell laptop and a low powered atom based server - what kit are you running the SBS on ? Are your performance problems related to accessing the web interface or in the server application streaming music and being slow to stream ?

Ian

ps I have the radio as well in the Kitchen and am a big fan

aubuti
2010-01-09, 13:48
Sorry you're having problems with the SB Radio, but I don't find the "review" particularly informative. If SBS seems to run slowly it is probably because your server is underpowered (it really doesn't require much horsepower), but you never give the specs of your server, or what else it is doing while serving music. Likewise, saying the interface is "klunky" is completely vague, as are the references to the problems you had.

Btw, for figuring out what different settings do there is actually a lot of good (if brief) information in the pop-up bubbles when you hover the cursor over the "i" icons on the SBS settings pages.

Anyway, I hope you get things sorted out and running smoothly. Yes, you see a lot of people posting about the problems they are having, and yes they are real. But the system also works fine for a *lot* of people -- they just don't post to say "all is well."

Aurumer
2010-01-10, 05:18
All is well, like my Boxes and the Server.