Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Squeezebox Duet

Imagine … or should I say visualize this …

Sitting in your living room – listening to music on your stereo

Nice song …

- You wish you could read the lyrics as well …
'click' ... reading lyrics

- You want to hear that song next – not sure of the album
'click' ... search by track/artist/album/genre … there you go!

- Want to catch up on latest headlines or ANY RSS feed out there?
... reading it

- Visual Access to your ENTIRE music collection on the computer
'click' ... you have it already! (from your couch)

- Radio anyone?
'click' ... there you go – Internet Radio

- bored? want to catch podcasts
'click' ... all the podcasts out there

I just described (more or less) how we have been spending the last few evenings with the Squeezebox Duet.

It is *exactly* as they said it would be – F.r.e.e.Y.o.u.r.M.u.s.i.c.

And believe it or not – Even D loves it.

Loooong story short - Music from computer is streamed wirelessly to the Squeezebox Receiver which connects to the stereo AND the Controller is a wireless remote with a superb 240x320 color screen – so you’re pretty much visually controlling your computer.

The dilemma
All the music is on the 500GB Disk attached to my computer in the study and the stereo is in the living room … (as is the couch and everything else) – like most homes!
Now the Ipod docking station is good – but you can’t navigate/search/create-playlists sitting on the couch can you – unless of course you are Mr. Fantastic or use binoculars at home!

The solution -
The sheer brilliance of the design is that the remote has a screen!!!

It is like having an Ipod/Music-player in your hand with

  1. Infinite capacity – as much as you want to have on your computer
  2. Wireless music transmission and remote – completely WiFi so no pointing at anything!
  3. Instantaneous Lyrics browser – yep there is this plugin which finds the lyrics for the song playing and also scrolls automatically with the song!!
  4. Wireless RSS reader
  5. Internet Radio player
  6. Podcast player
  7. Expandable – I can add as many receivers as I want … and they all can synchronize to play the same music OR – hold your breath - play their own streams … so I could be listening to Led Zeppelin in the living room and D could be listening to The Beatles in the bedroom!
  8. Fully customizable software and firmware – yep the Squeezecenter (the server software) is open-source – so boatloads of plugins and goodies updated daily – it’s a programmers dream (makes me want to start programming!!) and god bless all those programming souls out there that write so many cool plugins for everyone to use .
    Get this – they are writing new firmware features and plugins for the Controller as we speak – essentially enabling more cool features on your hardware – how do you beat that!!! The sheer excitement that every software release is going to make your hardware more cool just cannot be explained ... Now that’s definitely a first!! Yaaaaaaaaaaay! Shame on you Apple – look and learn - your stupid firmware update pretty much made my Ipod Classic a no-video device – pfffffffffffft!! (ya ya - before you Apple lovers scream like little girls I know that I can buy an Apple docking station to output video to my TV ... I have one question ... WHY? how dare they tie me down to one stupid hardware when there are so many better ones out there :P ... but I digress)


1. Installation
OK It took me about 15 minutes ... now I may be a geek - but seriously I had absolutely no trouble getting this thing onto my wireless network
A lot of people have complained ... not sure why ... now I don't really have much security on my wireless network except for MAC Address filtering (ok ok before you security freaks out there start streaming me a lecture on wireless security - I know the pitfalls - but I'm in Angola for crying out loud!!!!) - but yes I had no problem getting the thing to work.

2. Squeezecenter
Now I had installed and played around with the Squeezecenter for a week before the hardware got in - pretty cool software I must say ... you dont need a squeezebox to try it out - so go ahead and try it ... it streams music to any computer on your network and I was able to test out the functionalities by streaming different sets of music to D's and my computer at the same time. Really the Squeezebox Receiver is just an alternative for a computer ... you could very well place an old computer next to your stereo and have the same functionality EXCEPT that you wouldn't have a remote with a screen to visually control your music playing from anywhere in the house ... visually being the key word here.

3. Chance?
Now as much of a geek that I am its pretty amazing that I was blind to the whole SqueezeBox phenomenon all these years ... not sure how even I missed it on CNet all these years!!! must be divine intervention ;) coz I'm pretty sure that I would have bought one of the earlier Squeezeboxes without the cool visual remote and then I would be salivating for the Duet now ...
Of course then I would probably also never have (ego-swallowingly) shelled out 250 bucks for my stupid Ipod as well ... but shhh - you never heard that. But if you really really really must know, then I succumbed into buying an IPod (over much better alternatives) simply because of the choice of hardware accessories that are available ... I know - the irony is sickening - aaaaaaaaargh ... I hate you Apple!!!

4. Logitechization
Someone mentioned the other day that Logitech is prolly the only company that makes cooler products than Apple - and I completely agree!! I looked around the other day and wow! I'm logitechized to a fair degree ... Squeezebox, Z-2300, MX3200, Pure-Fi Elite, X-140 ... interesting ...

5. some more drooling
The hardware specs for the Controller (the remote) are so cool ... it has an acceleromoter built in!!! and IR port as well ... how cool is that ... and and and I can't wait for the November release when they are going to enable the headphone socket on the Controller ... SUPER I tell you!

Well if you have survived this post ... I don't need to tell you how much I like the concept and execution ... ... ... and yes - Thank You Ava!

awright ... gotto go and catch up on more music :)

images courtesy : Amazon, Slimdevices Wiki

1 comment:

Christopher Jon said...

Great review Venky. I agree with most of your points: Logitech makes better products than Apple; I hate the iPod but I may swallow my pride and buy one just because of the hardware available for it. I haven't really gotten into music streaming but I have an xbox 360 connected to my stereo should I change my listening habits.

I'm looking for a whole house audio/video streaming solution. I've been looking at Creston networked remotes for the control. They're pretty cool.