Friday, September 5, 2008

Logitech Squeezebox Boom: The ultimate Wi-Fi radio?

Logitech Squeezebox Boom(Credit: Logitech)

If you took one of Logitech’s increasingly ubiquitous Pure-Fi desktop stereos and integrated one of its Squeezebox network-audio streamers, you’d probably come up with something like the Logitech Squeezebox Boom. Previous Squeezebox models had to be plugged into an existing stereo receiver or speaker system, but the Boom is the first model in Logitech’s network-audio line to have the speakers built-in. The result is a full-service Wi-Fi radio that can access a wide variety of digital music straight from the Internet or from a networked PC.

We’ve been playing with an early sample of the Squeezebox Boom, and–so far–it’s one of the best products in its class we’ve ever seen. That’s not surprising, given that it has the same guts as the recent Editors’ Choice Squeezebox Duet. As far as abilities are concerned, the Boom pretty much has the identically impressive range of features as the Duet: the ability to stream everything from premium Rhapsody and Sirius content to freely available Internet radio, podcasts, Pandora, Slacker, and music straight off the Web, as well as nearly any non-DRM digital-audio format from a networked PC (Windows, Mac, or Linux). (Editor’s note: CNET and are both subsidiaries of CBS.) But the Boom trades the Duet’s digital and analog outputs for a pair of good-sounding stereo speakers (3-inch woofers flanked by 0.75-inch tweeters), so the entire system is self-contained.

The unit’s handsome, black housing is a mere 5-inches high by 13-inches wide and 4-inches deep. It’s got the same sort of bright, vacuum, fluorescent display found on the “classic” Squeezebox, which makes it easily viewable, even from halfway across the room. The control panel is pretty much a spread-out version of the Squeezebox Duet remote (itself strongly modeled on the iPod). Most functions are accessed from a single scrollwheel–depress the wheel to make a menu choice, use the nearby “back” button to reverse course. Six preset buttons are also on board for quick access to Internet radio stations of your choice. A small wireless remote is also included–it magnetically attaches to the Boom’s topside (or any other metal surface) for easy locating.


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