Logitech Squeezebox Duet Review

by Reads (12,777)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet is a network attached audio device that lets you play audio files off your notebook or desktop, as well as online sources. This music pipes directly to your home theater instead of being limited to small computer speakers or headphones. With the WIFI-enabled controller in hand you can navigate your endless music collection stored on your computer, no matter where you are around your home. Now is this new device the best thing since sliced bread or just another gadget bound to collect dust?

 

Specifications

  • 2.4-inch color display
  • Digital optical, coax, and analog connectors
  • High-fidelity 24-bit Wolfson DAC
  • Plays MP3, AAC, WMA, Ogg, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless, and WAV music files
  • Built-in 802.11b/g wireless
  • 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port
  • Connects to SqueezeCenter software, providing access to music libraries on local computers
  • Connects to SqueezeNetwork for access to Internet radio and online music services
  • Retail Price: $399, additional controller $299 or receiver $149


(view large image)


Setup

Few devices have ever caused problems for me during setup, only one has ever caused me to lose five hours of a night at home trying to get it to work. The Logitech Squeezebox Duet provides so little documentation and has such a confusing software interface that I could not get the handheld piece to connect to my network, my computer to recognize the box attached to my stereo and network, or even access the settings on the remote needed to end the infinite loop of sorrow. For someone that has made a point of playing with almost every piece of electronics known to man to have trouble setting this up, imagine how the average consuumer would feel. When I finally got it to work, it seemed it had less to do with my constantly fiddling with it, and more about stars and planets aligning and someone higher up feeling pity on me.


(view large image)
 
(view large image)

 

Setup basically consists of the following steps:

  1. Install Squeeze Center software on your computer and setup account online
  2. Connect the receiver to LAN, power, and stereo
  3. Follow the steps presented to you on the screen of the remote
  4. Play Music!

Some of the items Logitech doesn’t go over in the included documentation is what happens when the Squeezebox Duet fails to connect to wireless network, or what if it presents you with a mandatory software update that constantly fails? The software on the remote is so limited that you can’t just break out of current prompts to access a menu to make simple changes like switch a wireless network because you accidentally clicked your neighbor’s router and it won’t stop telling you it can’t make a connection. Most of these problems were solved by a power cycle of both the receiver and remote, but it was very annoying.


(view large image)

User Interface

Once all the quirks are worked out, the Squeezebox Duet is fairly easy to use. You scroll the selection wheel to the mode you want to use; listening to music on your computer or listening to internet sources. Then it is just a matter of clicking the center button as the choices come up until you hit the play option. When a source is playing, you are presented with a neat and clean "Now Playing" screen which shows the track progress, song name, album name, and even album art if it is available. Direct access to play/pause, volume controls, and track controls are through individual buttons, so you can always control those items without searching through the different screens. All of these buttons are also backlit, which helps to locate buttons when it is too dark to read the label. The key backlight–while useful at first–isn’t really needed once you get used to the button layout.

The controller quality is average, with plastics that suffer the same fate as early iPods. The plastic is on the soft side, and likes to scratch from contact with anything. After a few days of use, the back was heavily scuffed, and I also found a little scratch on the LCD cover. For a device that costs $399, you would hope it would be a bit more durable. For the long haul I would really suggest a screen protector to keep it looking new.


(view large image)

Audio Quality

Let’s be honest, out of any other feature that this device advertises, it all comes down to the quality of the music pumped out of the receiver that goes off to your home stereo. Since most people don’t always have a computer located right next to their home theater system, getting your large music collection pumped throughout your home can be a slight problem. You also might not have digital audio out from your computer, which gives a cleaner output.

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet does not let down any bit in this category. From poorly encoded MP3s to high bitrate FLAC files it played everything flawlessly (won’t make horrible music sound better though).

 

Conclusion

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet commands a hefty price tag coming in at $399 retail and offers great audio quality and a decent interface. The key problem though is the software and lack of detailed instructions which can bring even the most skilled computer user to their knees if something goes wrong. When the Sqeezebox is working properly, it is easy enough for anyone to use it. Unfortunately, if the Squeezebox isn’t working the way it should you can get stuck in an infinite loop of pain and anguish. I found this out first hand, but once everything clicked it turned out to be pretty amazing.

While I might have an easier time recommending the Squeezebox if the pricetag was $100 less, it is still a great product assuming you have the budget for it … and once the setup kinks are worked out the Squeezebox makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

Pros

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Plays a wide range of audio formats
  • Cool control and interface

Cons

  • Software can be buggy at times
  • Setup can be simple and painless or a nightmare depending on the conditions
  • Controller scratches easily


LEAVE A COMMENT

0 Comments

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.