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December 11, 2005 by Mike Chin
| Squeezebox 3
Digital Music Network Interface
|Slim Devices, Inc.
|US$299 (wireless ethernet)
US$249 (wired ethernet)
One of the challenges of writing this review was to come up with an accurate, descriptive subtitle. Digital Music Network Interface is what I settled on, but there are many other ways that the Squeezebox 3 has been described:
- streaming audio gateway
- network music access point
- streaming music player
- digital music networking device
- networked MP3 streamer
- network music player ¬ó the phrase coined by Slim Devices
Black version of Squeezebox 3: Just 7.6"W x 3.7"H x 3.1"D.
Actually, the product is too complex in its functions and not yet common enough for a single short phrase to fully describe it. The Squeezebox is a device that provides access to digital music files in any number of different formats on a computer, and allows these files to be played easily through any existing audio playback system. The reference to wireless ethernet in the header should have tipped you off that it can access the network wirelessly, using 802.11g protocol for up to 54Mbps. It has a remote control, a very slick vacuum fluorescent display, and easy access to Internet radio. It provides analog outputs on RCA jacks to feed the standard high level input of any amplifier, preamp or receiver, as well as both coaxial and optical S/PDIF digital outputs for use with an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC). It is small, simple to set up and use for any computer geek (and probably most computer or stereo users). SlimDevices has been refining their basic concept since the first model, SLIMP3, in 2001.
It can be used by itself as a gateway between your stereo and your PC, or you can add an external digital-to-analog converter for higher performance. If you go the latter route, the Squeezebox can, in theory, rival the very best high end CD players money can buy. The Squeezebox 3 is one of the most useful, fun devices I've had the pleasure of hooking up to my stereo... or my PC! It is also an incredibly multifaceted products whose features are too numerous to be covered fully in this review.
White version: It's slim, but still needs at least 3" depth to accommodate cables and the metal support.
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