Since buying Slim Devices in 2006, Logitech has expanded the Squeezebox range of networked music players considerably, adding devices like the two-speaker Squeezebox Boom and no-speaker Squeezebox Duet. Like those machines, the single-speaker Squeezebox Radio, which retails for about £150, is no one-trick pony.
Small and stylish
In many ways, the Radio is similar to the Boom, which Logitech released in late 2008. But it's a much smaller device, with a mono speaker, and it's designed more for listening to radio in the kitchen or bedroom than use as a full-blown music streamer.
Squeezebox devices used to look like they'd been knocked up in a basement by engineers who hadn't seen the light of day for several months, but recently they've become much more stylish affairs. The Radio is housed in a plastic case, available in either glossy black or red. Our red review sample looked the business. The front of the device is divided in two, with the speaker on the left-hand side, and the bright, 60mm (2.4-inch) colour screen and controls on the right.
Setting the device up on your network (it supports both Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet connections) is very simple. When the radio first starts up, it presents you with an easy-to-follow installation wizard. Unfortunately, entering passwords is tedious, as you have to enter each letter or number using the main rotary dial. If you want to use the Radio with your PC's music collection, you have to download the necessary software from the Web site, as it's not included in the box.
Once the Radio is set up on your network, you'll find that the menu system is very easy to use. It behaves much like the user interface on the iPod classic. Instead of a scroll wheel, however, you use the large rotary knob on the front to whizz through menus. Radio stations are neatly grouped into different categories, sorted by geographical region or the style of music that they play, so it's easy to find the types of stations that you want to listen to.
There are also six buttons dotted around the screen that can be used to save presets. When you're listening to a station you like, you just press and hold one of these buttons to assign the station to it.
As well as streaming Internet radio, the device also acts as a networked music player, so you can use it to play music stored on your PC or network-attached-storage box. A huge range of audio formats is supported. For example, MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA and OGG are supported natively by the hardware, while AAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless, APE, MPC and WavPack are automatically transcoded on the fly by the Squeezebox Server PC software when accessed.
The Radio only has a mono speaker, but we can't complain, as Logitech already offers the Boom for those seeking a stereo device. The speaker has a 3-inch driver with a 3/4-inch tweeter and, while the audio it spews out isn't exactly hi-fi quality, it's rather punchy and easily has enough oomph to fill a kitchen or bedroom.
If you're planning on using the Radio in your bedroom, you'll be pleased to hear that it also functions as an alarm clock. There's a dedicated alarm button on the front that takes you to a screen via which you can set up multiple alarms -- one for you and one for your partner if you need to get up at different times, for instance -- and also set the days on which the alarm should be active.
Furthermore, you can install apps on the device, giving you access to different services. For example, there's an app that lets you access music on demand from Napster and another that shows photos from your Flickr account on the screen.
Another benefit of the Radio is that it can be integrated into a Squeezebox network if you have other Squeezebox devices in your home. You can, for example, use the Squeezebox Web interface to control the radio remotely.
The only real bummer is that Logitech hasn't included a remote. One is available as an optional extra, but we expected one to be supplied in the box, as is the case with the Boom.
The Squeezebox Radio is one of the best Internet-radio streamers currently available. It looks fantastic, sounds good and has a cracking range of features. If you buy it, it's highly unlikely that you'll be disappointed.
Edited by Charles Kloet