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1 April 2005 | 0

The SlimDevices Squeezebox is a networked audio player that plays digital music stored on your computer through a stereo system. 
The small black box is roughly the size of a videocassette and dressed in black rubber.

It looks a little rough around the edges; look through the clear plastic inset in this device and you can see a printed circuit board holding a two-line, 40-character display and an infrared sensor.
The display is fine for some uses, but when dealing with large collections, it takes a lot of navigation button pressing on the remote. This can become irksome, so beware.

Most users of similar devices have responded by creating playlists on their PCs so they can just select the playlist rather then the individual tracks with the remote. The SlimServer Software downloaded from the SlimDevices website is open source, multi platform, packed with options — simply brilliant. Setup was a breeze;

I installed it both to a Windows 2000 system and a recent Mandrake Linux rebuild, and in both cases it worked like a charm. It is available on the Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD and Solaris platforms. Slimserver is obviously compatible with the Squeezebox and SLIMP3 network music players but also looks after any software MP3 player on
your network or even over the Internet.

Wireless setup was a bit troublesome, it failed at first to see both the USR 802.11b and Buffalo 802.11g/b wireless access points but a bit of reconfiguration and all was well. Also on the downside I had to lower the security of my wireless network due to the fact that it can only use WEP encryption rather then the much better WPA
encryption. This is a pet peeve, as WEP hardly deserves to be associated with the word security.

So finally were up on the network the sounds are streaming to the squeezebox hooked up to my amp. The quality is fine, and it can handle MP3s at any bit rate (constant or variable), uncompressed audio (WAV or AIFF), and streaming Internet radio. It has a
built-in MP3 decoder and can play other compressed media such as Ogg Vorbis, AAC or FLAC with server-side on-the-fly decoding. Some extras include an alarm clock that lets you wake up to your favourite music, and a sleep timer that gradually decreases volume as it shuts the device off automatically.

The software’s great even with out the hardware, and seems to have plenty of plug-ins and add-ons. The hardware’s looks and finish are fine for the techie’s out there but may not be to everyone’s taste and it’s a little short-sighted not to allow WPA encryption. Its audio playback performance was good and it was relatively simple to setup and use. With a host of analogue and digital outputs, a bright display and connectivity to wired or wireless networks, it is useable for anyone with a digital music collection that wants to listen to it outside of their computer room. 

SlimDevices Squeezebox — €397.68
Features: LED display; supports AIFF, WAV, MP3, MP2, AAC, WMA, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis; digital and analogue outputs; Integrated 2.4GHz 802.11b module; support for 802.11b and 802.11g access points, including Apple Airport.

System requirements: (All systems) 128Mbyte RAM, ethernet or wireless network, and 10Mbyte hard disk space; (Macintosh) Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later; (Windows) 233MHz Pentium running Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP; Linux/BSD/Solaris/Other: Perl 5.6.0 or later; approximately 32Mbyte additional memory for 15,000 songs

Contact:
Gadgets Online (www.gadgetsonline.ie)

30/08/04

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