I've been a big fan of the Squeezebox, and I figured that their acquisition by Logitech would either destroy the product or enable them to take it to new heights. On the other hand, I've long thought when it comes to multi-room audio, Sonos has had a far superior solution. We deployed a Sonos configuration at Maximum PC Lab North for long-term testing and consider it the technology to beat. We've compared every wireless music system it and none have proven superior. In addition to delivering awesome sound, Sonos has one of the best handheld controllers I've ever seen.
Well, it looks as though Logitech's acquisition has resulted in synergy with another of their big takeovers (I'm speaking of their Harmony remote-control division), because the Squeezebox Duet's remote looks as though it could give Sonos a run for its money. Logitech will be pricing the Squeezebox Duet (the remote and one base station) at just $400: The same price tag that Sonos commands for just its remote control). The Duet's remote features a 2.4-inch color LCD that can display album art, artist names, song titles, navigational menus, and more. Another feature that renders the remote very Sonos like is its ability to control multiple receivers in different rooms of the house.
The receiver, as with past Squeezebox designs, operates on a 802.11g wireless network and is capable of streaming all the usual DRM-free file formats (including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Apple Lossless, and WMA Lossless), as well as protected files from Rhapsody. Squeezebox products have always offered excellent Internet radio support, so I don't expect this model will disappoint in that respect, either.
I'm very much looking forward to comparing the Duet's multi-room capabilities to that of the Sonos.
LOGITECH Z CINEMA 2.1 SPEAKER SYSTEM
Logitech is also showing a new 2.1-channel speaker system, the Z Cinema Advanced Surround Sound System ($300). As you've no doubt guessed, after seeing "2.1 channel" and "surround sound" in the same sentence, Logitech is using audio trickery to accomplish surround sound with two speakers. This time, it's in the form of SRS TruSurround HD; and I have to admit, it didn't sound bad when Logitech auditioned it for me. It'll never be a substitute for five speakers, but I'm optimistic.
The satellite speakers consist of one-inch tweeters coupled with three-inch ventilated mid-range drivers; the subwoofer is an 8.00 long-throw model. The system is powered by an amplifier that delivers 35 watts (RMS) to each satellite and 110 watts (RMS) to the sub. The system comes with a wireless remote control, which should render the whole package much more useful in an entertainment center than most previous Logitech speaker systems, which have wired remotes.
Logitech sent me a set right before Holidays, but I had to send it up to our photo studio and it hasn't come back yet. Look for a full hands-on review soon.
LOGITECH DI-NOVO MINI KEYBOARD
There's no shortage of wireless keyboards, and some of them—including Logitech's DiNovo—look pretty chic. But there's just no mistaking them for what they are: a big, bulky PC keyboard. Logitech's new DiNovo Mini is entirely different.
This palm-sized Bluetooth device is not just small; it's unobtrusive. Close it up and leave it sitting on your coffee table and someone might mistake it for a lady's compact. It has a directional touchpad, too, so you don't need a mouse. And the keys are backlit, so you can use it in a darkened room. I'll be testing this product in the media room at Maximum PC Lab North soon and will deliver a full report.