Slim Devices Squeezebox 2

Slim Devices Squeezebox 2

Sqeezebox_Streaming.clipped.jpgWe all have the same problem: tons of music on our computer, but no way to listen to it in the living room. You need a streaming box! The folks at Slim Devices pioneered the category, and the original Squeezebox set the standard for wireless audio streaming. The follow-up Squeezebox 2 adds a few cosmetic upgrades and much-needed support for 802.11g.

The Squeezebox eschews an integrated amp (such as Sonos uses), instead offering a bevy of line-out options—RCA stereo, mini-headphone jack, and optical and coax SPDIFs. We don’t miss the added expense of the amp, but we would love to see it as an option for bedrooms, kitchens, and other rooms without a stereo. Audio quality is excellent, whether using the SPDIF or analog outs, the latter of which use the integrated 24-bit DAC.

While the 802.11g Wi-Fi upgrade isn’t technically necessary for music streaming—a very low-bandwidth task—it’s a vital feature for an always-on device such as the Squeezebox. You see, if you connect an 802.11b device to an 802.11g network, the entire network slows to 802.11b speeds, which sucks.

Our favorite new feature by far is the 320x32 vacuum fluorescent display. It’s much brighter and easier to read than the earlier model, even from across a well-lit room. Still, it remains inferior to the display on Sonos’ remote; but thanks to the magic of the open-source SlimServer software, you can get a close approximation with the Squeezebox, if you have an old PDA or laptop. Point a web browser at the server, and you’ll get a handy remote interface.

Even with upgrades, the Squeezebox 2 plays second-fiddle to Sonos’ premium streaming system (reviewed in April), but the Squeezebox 2 is much cheaper ($200 for the wired version, $280 for wireless) and provides the same functionality and the same outstanding audio quality at a fraction of the price. It’s a great option for budget-conscious music lovers.
—Will Smith

Month Reviewed: Holiday 2005

Verdict: 9
kickass=yes

www.slimdevices.com

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