Squeezebox Wireless Media Player
Given the small footprint and diminutive size of the Squeezebox, we were curious to see just how congested the internal components would be. Looking at the impressive list of capabilities, we also wondered how Slim Devices chose to implement those features. Somehow, the urge to dismantle the device was avoided until we actually had a chance to power up the Squeezebox and use it for a few hours.
Of course, one of the first steps after getting the system up and running was to pull it all apart and find out what sort of hardware comprises the device. In order to separate the front and back halves, two Torx screws must be removed. As seen in the image below, removing the front panel exposes the large VFD display and a rather bare PCB. The display used for the Squeezebox is absolutely stunning and is a high quality screen made by a company named Noritake. The choice of a VFD in place of a more conventional LCD provides the Squeezebox with a few key advantages. Despite the higher cost of the VFD display it offers higher brightness, a wider viewing angle, and a wider temperature range compared to typical LCD's.
After removing four additional Torx screws, we were able to pull the PCB assembly away from the rear panel to expose the core components of the Squeezebox. Here, the main components of the device are found on daughter cards which are stacked on top of each other in a very clean and compact orientation. On the top of the stack rests the 802.11g mini-PCI wireless card complete with its two antennas. After doing a bit of digging, it appears as though this wireless card is made by a vendor named TP-Link who seems to have some products that are very similar to Linksys. Overall, the wireless adaptor worked flawlessly during testing and did not drop connection or drag down the wireless network.
Directly below the wireless mini-PCI card, we find a second PCB module that has some core logic and memory modules onboard. The chipset shown in the image above is a Ubicom IP3023 wireless network processor. In short, this processor is a very low-latency network management device whose overall functionality is depicted in the block diagram below. Seeing the hooks for Flash and SDRAM, it is hardly surprising to see both AMD Flash and Micron SDRAM on the same daughterboard as the IP3023 chipset.