Logitech Squeezebox Radio October 2011
Logitech Squeezebox Radio
The Logitech Squeezebox Radio gives you access to internet radio and music stored on your PC. For a radio that does so much, it’s a compact unit and we’ve tried it out to see how easy it is to get to grips with.
The Logitech Squeezebox is an internet radio and media player. There are no DAB or FM tuners.
You need a broadband internet connection, and wireless or wired Ethernet connections are possible - although theres no Ethernet cable supplied in the box.
Is it quick to set up?
Internet radios are difficult to use compared with DAB or FM radios, and this one’s no exception. It takes more than a minute to get up and running. However, the dial and colour screen make this one of the easier internet models to set up.
To set up the internet connection for the first time you have to turn and press the dial to key in your router's security key. This isn't quick and feels a bit like safe-cracking. If your router has Wi-fi Protected Setup (WPS) connecting is quicker, requiring just a few button presses.
You’re prompted to create a Squeezebox account during set up – you’ll need to one in order to listen to internet radio, stream music to the box from your other devices, or to download certain podcasts.
The user manual in the box is limited to just set-up information, but this radio can do a whole host of things, so it’s well worth taking a look at the features manual online to get more from it.
Want to add internet radio to your existing hi-fi? Take a look at our first look review of the Logitech Squeezebox Touch.
Can I play my music on it?
Refreshingly, a cable is included in the box for connecting an MP3 player to the radio – the socket is at the back of the radio – so you can play your music through the radio’s speaker. It can play most formats including MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV. There's also a 3.5mm headphone socket on the side of the radio.
Once you’ve downloaded the free software using your Squeezebox account on your computer, you can stream music from your computer to the radio too.
The Squeezebox is quite small – measuring around 13x22x8.5cm (HxWxD) - and only has one speaker but the sound certainly packs a punch.
The dedicated volume dial is easy to turn – there are 100 volume increments, so you should be able to find a level you’re happy with. At full volume it’s very loud, but if you want to use the sleep timer there’s choice in the lower levels for drift off to.
The sleep function can be set to turn the radio off in 15 minute increments up to 90 minutes, or at the end of the current song.
Although the radio has an auto-dimming screen – adjusting to the ambient light – the clock and date are still fairly bright in standby with white characters on a black background. You could manually adjust the brightness to make it dimmer, but you can’t set a different brightness for on and standby modes.
There are programmable alarms – you can set the volume and days of the week for alarms. You can’t simply select a station for the alarm to tune into from a list of all stations, but you can select tunes or stations from a saved playlist, or a sound.
The sounds available on the radio include tones as well as option like lapping waves or motorcycles.
Find out more about dedicated internet radios in our Internet radios explained guide.
What can you do with the apps?
You can install apps onto the radio – the apps available are listed on the radio, or you can use your Squeezebox account on your computer to browse and download apps.
Most apps are free and provide access to more internet radio stations or sounds. Some require a subscription – such as Spotify. There are also social networking apps like the Facebook app so you can keep up to date with social goings-on via the radio’s screen.
Internet radios don’t necessarily provide access to all of the stations that you’d be able to listen to using the browser on your PC. There are apps for multi-channel radio stations like AccuRadio and Live365 although we weren’t able to find all of the same stations on the Live365 app as we found by listening to internet radio on a PC.
The Amazon CD app lets you save songs you like on an Amazon wish list. The Flickr app lets you view your Flickr photos on the radio's small colour screen and the Podcast app can be used to stream podcasts you’ve saved as favourites in your Squeezebox account directly to the radio.
There are a few options for listening to podcasts. There’s a BBC app you can add to the radio – this will give you easier access to BBC podcasts.
Access and management of other podcasts requires using the Squeezebox account on a computer to save the web URLs of the podcasts you want in the podcast application. They’ll then be available to listen to on the radio.
As with most other internet radios, you can also access BBC ‘listen again’ programmes on the Squeezebox.
Interested in an internet radio? Check our internet radio reviews before you buy.
Is it easy to find radio stations?
Internet radios are rarely easy to use because there are so many internet radio stations to choose from – finding the one you want often takes a little longer than it would on FM or DAB.
You can search for stations by name - keying in the station name a letter at a time using the dial. This isn’t as quick as a keyboard would be, so it’s well worth saving your favourite stations as presets for quicker access.
Saving presets onto the six preset buttons surrounding the screen is easy – you simply tune to the station then press and hold the preset button until a ‘saved’ messages appears on the screen.
You can save more stations as favourites in the favourites section of the Home menu. You can also add individual songs or albums as favourites if they’re saved on a computer that has the Squeezebox software downloaded onto it.
Should I buy it?
The Squeezebox Radio is very versatile – it can work as a bedside or tabletop radio – but an internet connection is essential. If you want to use it away from the mains as a portable radio you will need to purchase a dedicated Logitech battery pack - Logitech says it provides around six hours of audio per charge. You can't run the radio on standard batteries.
If you want to use it in the living room or kitchen a remote control could come in useful. Again this can be purchased separately - buying the battery pack and remote control together costs around £45.
The Logitech Squeezebox has a lot of potential – for its size it packs in a lot of functionality and a big sound. However, to get the most out of it you’ve got to embrace the wealth of functions it has to offer – get used to navigating around the screens, create playlists, spend time saving presets and favourites and try out the apps.