A few years ago, I encountered a review of a networked music player that seemed rather useful – the Squeezebox. This was a small unit that connected wirelessly to a computer on the home network (or to a manufacturer-maintained server on the internet) to stream digital music from numerous sources. The Squeezebox itself connects to the HiFi via analogue of digital outputs. The Squeezebox line of devices had been acquired by Logitech from its original manufacturers, SlimDevices. Over the following years, my Squeezebox system expanded to include a Squeezebox Touch, two Squeezebox Radios, and a number of software players for laptops and iPads, with my my music hosted on a QNAP NAS, running 24:7. You can see the general setup in this diagram (the Touch and Classic connect to the HiFi, while the Radios are standalone players):
The whole system is immensely versatile: I really only scratch the surface. The Logitech Media Server (LMS) offers the facility to add plugins, and over the years many official and third party plugins have been developed. I usually use LMS in preference to the Logitech maintained server MySqueezebox.com, and use it for playing local music files (a mixture of flac and mp3 format) and streaming radio. I scrobble my listening to Last.FM, but I don’t subscribe to music streaming services. You can synchronise music between two or more devices, alternatively you can play different music to each device. Like I say very versatile.
There were of course issues with the system. Frankly, had I not some tendency towards geeky-ness, I might have been confused by the system. On the other hand, consumer understanding can’t have been helped by continually renaming things – for example the server software changed from SlimServer, to SqueezeServer to Logitech Media Server (and I may have missed some out), and explaining to the customer how the local and internet servers worked must have been a complete pain for support.
Fast forward to late August 2012. Having just bought a Squeezebox Touch (as an upgrade to my Squeezebox Classic), I was browsing round the Logitech website, when I noticed a new product, the Logitech UE Smart Radio, which looked remarkably like the Squeezebox Radios I owned. As I continued looking round the Logitech site, I could see all the pages relating to the Squeezebox range disappear, and within a very short time, pretty much all mention of Squeezeboxes had been expunged. I posted to the Squeezebox Radio forum, and you can see there the dismay this news caused.
Logitech has indeed pulled out of supplying the best home networked music system that I can see on the market. They’ve rebranded the Squeezebox Radio, and reduced its functionality (though I have to say this generates an easier consumer experience). Oddly the newly branded UE Smart Radio can’t play local music files without an internet connection. And there’s nothing in the range that can output to a HiFi. So, all very sad.
In the meantime, Logitech are supporting MySqueezebox.com for the foreseeable future, and even when that goes, those of us with functional local servers will continue using their Squeezebox systems.
It’s just a shame that the Squeezebox lineup has gone.