Slim Devices Squeezebox 3 network music player
Computer-to-stereo music streaming goes mainstream
The front of the device is split 50:50 between a brushed aluminium panel and a Ray Ban-black visor behind which sits the familiar crisp, bluey-green, 320 x 32 vacuum fluorescent display. It remains eminently readable across a room, which is more than you can say for a docked iPod - especially if it's a Nano. The Squeezebox uses the same kind of horizontally scrolling user interface, albeit with only one line shown at a time, and I found it spry and responsive.
As before, Squeezebox utilises its own server app running on a Windows, Mac or Linux box to link the player to your music collection. The first time you run SlimServer in conjunction with a Squeezebox, it will index your songs, so you may find they're not all available to you immediately, but it's not too long before they are. While the initial index is being assembled, I found the Squeezebox to be frequently unresponsive and slow, but once the process was complete I had no trouble getting it to do what I wanted. The moral of the story: leave your Squeezebox alone while it's indexing, especially if you have a large music collection.
Once it knows what songs are available, Squeezebox quickly displays the tracks you can play, browsed by genre, artist, album, etc, or located using the first two three characters of the title, composer, band name and so on. Switching songs was effortless and - post indexing - there was no sense of lag between pressing a button on the remote and seeing the result on the screen, or hearing it blast out of the speakers.
Slim Devices makes the SlimServer code available to all, so it's gained a wide array of additional features, most accessed through its HTML front-end. It allows you to control the player and change settings remotely, but most folk will be able to leave it running in the background. The Squeezebox itself can now be augmented with software plug-ins, with an RSS feed reader and even a cute Squeezebox version of Tetris ready to help you pass the time.