Saturday, February 18, 2006

Love My New Squeezebox

Squeezebox_1For years I’ve been running a 50 ft. RCA cable from my PC to my stereo.  I just couldn’t bear to sit a PC in the living room, but was sold on the convenience MP3s.  At the time there wasn’t a single MP3–based audio product for home systems, so I bought a long cable and waited.

When we recently moved, I decided to pay attention and yes, there are now a ton of options out there.  After a bunch of research I opted for the Squeezebox from Slim Devices

The Squeezebox is a little wifi-powered device that sits on your stereo and talks to a computer running their SlimServer software.  It also browses and connects directly to Internet radio stations which is a real plus — looking forward to listening to KCRW.

BTW my second choice was the Sonos player because it’s remote control kicks booty (think color-ipod-as-remote-control).  But besides the higher price, they saddle you with an amp that you don’t need.  No thanks…

Oh one other cool thing about the Squeezebox is that their software is open source, and there appear to have an active community.  E.g. even though the standard remote is a bit boring, they’ve got a ton of remote control plugins.

First Impressions

I set it up this morning and my first impressions are actually mixed.  The device itself is beautiful.  I also really like the interface, and now that I’ve got it connected it works beautifully

The setup could have been so easy, but ended up feeling so hard.  The main issue was related to my wifi password.  I entered it, was given an IP, and all appeared ready to rock.  The little wizard took literally 3 minutes to run through after opening the box. 

Turns out the IP it gave me was some “fallback” IP (?) and I couldn’t connect to anything.  And no helpful error messages.

This started a bit of a wild goose chase to figure out what was wrong w/my setup.  Was it connecting to a neighbors network?  Did I have a problem w/my router? I turned to the support forums and was blown away by the responsiveness of the community.  I think I had 7 answers to my 6 questions in a half hour’s time.  Big bonus.

In the end I had a bad password.  I wish they would have told me that instead of connecting me to some phantom IP and sending me on a wild goose chase. The only other step was the need to poke 3 holes in my PC’s firewall.

Bug snaggy steup behind me, I love it.  They actually do an amazing job of marrying a standard TV-style remote to a big and beautiful display to make it very easy to browse your collection, playlists, etc.  The only thing missing is the album art.  Hint hint for SqueezeBox v4.
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