While there’s more competition than ever in the network music player space, Logitech’s Squeezebox division continues to push out products that are both feature-rich and also excel in what they do… not to mention look good. The Boom is the latest product off the line, and as we had hoped, it impresses in many different ways.
The front of the Boom is divided into three separate columns. On the left and right are the speakers. As we mentioned earlier, there are a pair of 3-inch high-power, long-throw woofers and a pair of 3/4-inch high-definition, soft-dome tweeters. The center column is divided down into two separate pieces as well. On the top is a high resolution VFD display and underneath are the controls.
On the top of the Boom is a long button snooze button, soft to the touch and easy to find in the dark when the alarm goes off. Behind the snooze button is an indented space for the remote. To make this even more convenient, this indention contains a low-powered magnet to keep the remote in place when not in use. While this won’t prevent all remotes being lost, it should help many from realizing this unfortunate fate.
Taking a closer look at the buttons, a large knob dominates the layout and the rest of the buttons surround it in a relatively symmetrical fashion. To the left of the knob is the power, back, rewind, forward and pause buttons. To the right are the play, add and volume up and down buttons. Along the top are six presets. Without the remote, the knob is used to do the majority of the navigation and can be pressed in to make a selection, but when a song is playing, it can be used to raise and lower the Boom’s playback volume. The buttons are covered with a soft rubber and are smooth in their operation. The knob rotates smoothly with a slight click signifying one movement up or down.
Taking a closer look at the remote and its place at the top of the Boom, we can also see the large snooze button. As we have already mentioned, the remote and its holder are both magnetically charged, holding the two together when the remote is not in use.
Compared to the original Squeezebox remote, the Boom’s is rather minimal but provides all the functionality needed to operate the Boom from across the room. It should be mentioned though that everything can be set, maintained and edited through the web portal, which is by default http://127.0.0.1:9000/.
Turning over the Boom, we can see the connections that the device provides. While the Squeezebox was geared more towards being used with a receiver in your entertainment center, the Boom is an all in one media streamer designed to be portable if needed. With that in mind, the Boom only offers a power port, line in, headphone out and a single CAT5 Ethernet jack. Most won’t need the Ethernet jack because the Boom provides dual antennas for maximum throughput and extended range over 802.11b/g wireless networks.
Just above the ports are four brass mounting holes. If you decide to purchase the mounting brackets, you will attach it to these four holes.
Shipping with the Boom are just enough accessories to get you up and running without much headache. One interesting feature of the Boom is its large wall mount AC adapter. The switching power supply that is included can be configured with one of four wall adapters depending on which country the product is being used. Since we are looking at the Boom here in North America, ours came with the standard two parallel prong adapters. This simply slides into place on the wall adapter itself. Also included is a male to male headphone cable allowing owners of iPods or Zunes to pass-through audio to the Boom. Logitech also ships a soft jacket to transport the Boom in.
Just for fun, and to show relative size, here are a few pictures of the Boom next to the original Squeezebox 3 and my size 12 shoe. As you can see, the Boom is considerably larger than the Squeezebox 3 but considering that it includes speakers, this is to be expected.
For those of you that do not have a Squeezebox or have not seen one, there isn’t really any way to get a good idea of the size of the Boom. For you, here’s a quick look at how it compares to a size 12 shoe. The Boom is exactly the same length and slightly taller than the shoe. If you have room for a shoe on your night stand, desk or kitchen counter (please keep your shoes off your counter, you prepare food there!) then you have more than enough room for the Boom.
The SqueezeCenter software is easy to setup and navigate. I have heard complaints of its responsiveness but I have not had a single issue and overall, have been pleased with its performance and exhaustive depth. Through the SqueezeCenter, you have complete control of any attached Slim Device/Logitech device.
I actually prefer using the devices through the web interface and only fall back on the remote and VFD display when absolutely necessary. Through the software, you can control individual devices (assuming you have more than one setup on your network), create playlists, control your media library, setup the alarm clock functionality and setup your Internet radio playlists.
Speaking of Internet radio, you can use your Last.fm, Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody and MP3tunes Music Locker accounts. I don’t personally use this feature everyday, but Rob does and on his advice, I too have learned to enjoy Last.fm.
If you have an SIRIUS account, you can also access it through the Boom, extending to the uses that the Squeezebox line of products provides. The software will also determine your location and generate a list of all local radio stations that provide steaming from the ‘net and provide you this list. I have spent many evenings listening to the local Indianapolis radio stations as well and my personal favorite, NPR.
While not produced by Logitech or Slim Devices, and to be honest, I’m not entire sure they endorse it, there are a handful of apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone. I have read the reviews and downloaded what the majority of people I have talked to have deemed the best app, iPeng. Once installed and connected to your home network, you can now control your Squeezebox.
I have the touch and the iPhone side by side to show a few different screens available in the app. This is a beautiful way to control your music remotely and if any of you are like me, your phone is never far from your side. If I’m not in front of a computer or across the room and don’t have the remote, I can pull out my phone or iPod and quickly browse through my music library and get some music spun up and playing.
So we know what it can do, but now let’s take a look at how it performs, and then wrap up with my final thoughts.