Setup and Configuration
Easily one of the most attractive aspects of the Squeezebox is the availability of both a hard-wired and a wireless version of the device. Granted, there is a seemingly endless amount of media players that offer wireless connectivity. However, the vast majority of these devices only support the bandwidth constrained 802.11b standard. For those looking to integrate a wireless media player into their faster 802.11g network, the addition of an 802.11b device will have a profoundly negative impact on the overall performance as it will become the bottleneck of the network. Thankfully, Slim Devices has been wise enough to equip the Squeezebox with full 802.11b/g support to ensure the highest possible performance without any of the previously mentioned complications or bottlenecks.
Integrating the Squeezebox into your network and making the appropriate connections to your components is a painfully simple process. With the back panel offering connectivity options for SPDIF, digital coax, analog RCA, and standard 3-wire PC input there are more than enough choices to suit your particular configuration. Overall, the hard wired connections are simple and easy to access thanks to a very clean and open back panel. Although it seems like a minor feature, the ability to utilize headphones will prove to be a very highly valued bonus for those wanting to enjoy their music collection late at night or while others watch TV. One small detail that deserves mention are the gold-plated RCA connections which are just one example of the quality and attention to detail we see throughout the Squeezebox.
Somewhat surprisingly, configuring the wireless connectivity was a quick and simple procedure. Before any configuration takes place on the actual device, the user must first install the SlimServer software on whatever PC they want to access music from. This is a short and simple installation and the software requires little to no CPU utilization while running. The first time you power up the Squeezebox, the user is presented with a prompt to setup the wireless connection. This very intuitive process asks for some basic network information and has provisions for some solid network security settings including WPA Personal, WPA2 AES, and 64/128-bit WEP encryption. Thanks to the use of dual antennas, the Squeezebox is assured a strong wireless signal and can be used at a far greater range from the router than most other wireless devices.
Once the network is setup, the Squeezebox will recognize the user's network, identify the music server, and will have the full collection of local music, as well as Internet Radio, fully accessible from the device. In terms of the quality and flexibility of the files the Squeezebox can play, it is safe to assume that no one will be disappointed. For lossless formats the Squeezebox supports Apple lossless, FLAC, and WMA lossless. In terms of uncompressed formats the device supports AIFF, WAV, and PCM. Lastly, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, MP2, MusePack, and WMA compressed formats are all fully supported. In similarly impressive fashion, the Squeezebox features an "Always-On" Internet Radio whose streams can even be accessed when the home PC (music server) is not running. Overall, the Squeezebox is a very powerful and robust media player in an incredibly small and compact size.