Logitech Squeezebox Radio review

Logitech's Squeezebox family of products, originally created by Slim Devices, began life as boxes to get music stored on your computer to play through your existing stereo. Since Logitech took over the Squeezebox reins, the line has expanded to include a few all-in-one products that act not only as receivers for streaming content, but also as speakers to play that content.

The most affordable such option is the Squeezebox Radio, a compact (5.12 inches tall by 8.66 inches wide by 5.04 inches deep) device that streams audio from your computer, from a NAS (network-attached-storage) drive, or over the Internet, playing that audio through a single built-in speaker that incorporates a 3/4-inch tweeter and a 3-inch woofer. On the front is a 2.4-inch color LCD screen that display menus, album art, and other visual information.

The Radio comes in your choice of black or red, and can play a bevy of musical formats (including several that iTunes can't): MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis. As with other non-Apple devices, however, the Radio can’t play older, FairPlay-protected (.m4p) AAC files purchased from the iTunes Store. Newer, or upgraded, iTunes Plus (.m4a, unprotected) files will play just fine.

To set up the Radio, you first install the Squeezebox Server preference pane (which runs in 32-bit mode) on the Mac you want to stream from. (There are also versions of the software for Windows and Linux computers and for supported NAS devices.)

The software can work in conjunction with iTunes, reading your iTunes library and playlist information, but you can also choose a separate Music Folder. I use this option to play lossless FLAC files that iTunes can’t import. (Note that you can play music only when the computer running the Server software is on and awake.)

The Squeezebox Server pane in OS X's System Preferences.

The Radio connects to your network via 802.11g wireless or ethernet. Initial setup using the Radio's built-in screen is somewhat of a hassle, since you have to enter text such as your wireless network password using a scroll knob to navigate to and select each letter. But once you’re done, you have instant access to all of the songs, albums, artists, genres, playlists, and more on your computer. In my testing, playback mostly worked fine, although with some playlists, the Radio would start playing several seconds into the first track or, in some cases, skip the first track entirely. In addition, one particular album wouldn't play at all, sometimes forcing me to restart the Radio.

NEXT: Capability to connect to the Internet


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