The bearded rotund dude clad in red paid a visit a few days ago, leaving a selection of gifts, among them a Squeezebox Radio.  This is part of a range of wi-fi audio devices from Logitech – I already have one of the original Squeezeboxes, now renamed Squeezebox Classic.

Squeezebox Radio (image via Logitech website).

Each of these devices connects to a server system that serves audio streams, either from local audio files of from the internet.  In my case, I’m using a QNap NAS box as a server.  The software for this, Squeezebox Server, is available as a download for a variety of platforms, including Linux, OSX and Windows, as well as a perl tarball.  Squeezebox server supports multiple players, which need not be playing the same audio streams.  Squeezebox Server is open source, and supports a whole array of plugins.  My current set up consists of a Squeezebox Classic, the new Squeezebox Radio, and the iPad app SqueezePad which following a recent update now has the ability to use the iPad as a player.  In addition, one can emulate the players on one’s computer using Squeezeslave.

I intend to use the Squeezebox Radio to replace an ageing radio alarm clock.  Reviews suggest that it’s a bit unreliable as an alarm clock when used to play internet radio feeds from the Logitech server.  In my case I’ll be mostly streaming BBC radio via the iPlayer plugin.

The Squeezebox Radio is principally operated by the buttons and knobs on the front panel, though some of the functionality can be accessed via Squeezebox Server.  A remote control is available separately along with the rechargeable battery pack (which bizarrely isn’t included unless you’ve selected the device as part of a bundle).  So, in order of size:

The colour monitor shows the status of the device.  It can be set to show a variety of information while playing or in standby: I’ve set this to show the time and date most of the time.  It can be a bit bright for use as a bedside radio, but this can be addressed by adjusting the brightness and the theme in use.

The large knob isn’t actually the volume, but the selecter used to scroll down configuration options and through the music files.  You push it to make a selection.  The on/off button, actually more of a standby button is bottom right, with the volume knowb bottom left.  There are several switches for ‘Home’, ‘Back’ and the like, which are used in navigating the menu system, along with conventional play, pause, ffwd etc functions.

The six silver buttons (three either side of the display) are used to preset playlists and radio stations.

In use, the thing was almost ridiculously easy to set up.  It quickly found my wireless network.  I had a brief pause while I figured out what my login details for the squeezenetwork were, but then the remaining setup was straightforward, including a download of a firmware update.

Sound quality is pretty good for such a small device.  Setting the alarms is easiest using Squeezebox Server, but many of the things I’ve tweaked have had to be done through the devices interface itself.  This includes setting preset playlists, and setting the display brightness and theme.

Does it work as an alarm clock?  Yes, no problems on the testing so far.  I have one or two worries about bandwidth when the server is doing backups, and I’ll need to keep an eye on this.

I’m really very pleased with the device – so far it’s worked well, though of course it needs to b