Presentation and Appearance
Complete in its retail packaging, it is immediately apparent how small the Squeezebox truly is. However, upon opening the box the user will surely be surprised by how robust the out of box experience is. After removing the Squeezebox player from its protective foam inserts, we find a remote (with batteries), an exceptionally small AC adaptor, RCA cables, a manual, registration card, microfiber cleaning cloth, and an amusing sticker that reads, "MP3 Is Not a Crime".
The remote is a rather bland yet functionally suitable model that allows the user to access the full functionality of the Squeezebox from the comfort of their seat. Although it would have been nice to have been provided with a remote that more closely matches the high-tech aesthetic of the actual device, we can't complain about its functionality. Here, the remote does provide a very acceptable level of control with no issues regarding signal strength or responsiveness. Two of the most convenient buttons on the remote are the "Size" and "Brightness" buttons. Here, the size of the text can be adjusted to compliment your viewing distance from the device. In similar fashion, the brightness of the VFD display can be adjusted according to personal tastes. Although this seems somewhat trivial, it is certainly a welcomed feature when trying to watch DVD's in a dark room without a beacon of light beaming from the Squeezebox.
Power is supplied to the Squeezebox through the use of an incredibly small 5V AC adaptor. Unfortunately, this wall-wort has been widely criticized throughout the industry as a very limiting factor to the Squeezebox's success. Many audiophile users have experienced a great deal of success by switching to an aftermarket AC adaptor whose specifications are significantly more robust than this unit's 5V/2A rating. For our testing purposes, we'll be using the Squeezebox in its stock form to accurately illustrate the overall performance and value a user will experience when purchasing this product.
Looking at the front of the system, we find Slim Devices has opted to go with a very high-tech but clean industrial design. The aesthetic of the device is very fluid with no sharp edges or defined buttons breaking the smooth lines of the system. Button-fanatics need not worry as the Squeezebox comes equipped with its own small remote that puts the most commonly used commands at your fingertips. With the unit off, the front of the system is uncluttered. However, plugging in the power supply brings the high quality VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) to life. Speaking of the display, the unit itself is a model from a vendor called Noritake and is extremely high in both quality and price. This gorgeous screen houses a wealth of information from album meta data (title, song, artist) to equalizers and clocks and can be further customized with open-source plug-ins that provide even more functionality. Thankfully, Slim Devices also includes a microfiber cleaning cloth to keep the screen area of the Squeezebox free of dust and fingerprints.
The back panel of the Squeezebox offers a solid collection of connectivity options including analog RCA, SPDIF digital optical, and Digital Coax connections. Here, the connectors are very easy to access and are spaced out enough to accommodate even the most bulky and heavily shielded cables you can find. Those opting to use a wired ethernet connection instead of the wireless option also have easy access to the 10/100 connector on the back panel. Overall, the physical setup of the Squeezebox is simple and efficient with no apparent issues whatsoever.
Ironically enough, the one issue we do have with the Squeezebox involves the basic metal bar that acts as the stand for the device. For whatever reason, Slim Devices chose to make this a fixed piece of hardware with no adjustments in terms of tilt or angle. This is all well and good for the vast majority of applications as many will have this on their desk or end table. However, those attempting to use this device on a top shelf or in a component rack could possibly have trouble reading the screen as the natural angle tips the unit up slightly. Ideally, we'd like to see a hinged metal stand that would allow users to tilt the device up and down to suit each and every application.