Aside from that impressive display, the front houses a relatively familiar set of hardware controls. In the centre is a large control dial, which is primarily used for navigating the menus but once the volume controls have been pressed it can also be used to quickly dial-in the volume level you would like. The fact it defaults to navigating menus rather than adjusting volume does take a while to get used to and will no doubt confuse your guests but it’s certainly not a big enough deal to annoy.
One other intriguing unconventional touch is the play button. Rather than a traditional play/pause button there are separate play and pause controls. The play button is treated as a selection button in the menus so if you pause one stream then start browsing the other available radio stations, pressing play will play whatever you’ve selected in the menu rather than resume the track you paused. Again, it’s not an annoyance but it does increase the learning curve somewhat.
Six station preset buttons bisect the central panel, enabling you to recall your favourite Internet radio stations at the touch of a button. Storing new stations is accomplished by holding down the button for a second or two and switching between selected stations is very quick.
Round the back, the Boom’s intended use as a standalone device is made clear as the selection of inputs and outputs is very slim. There’s just one line input and no outputs, digital or otherwise, for passing the raw music onto a fully-fledged receiver/amplifier. There is a sub-out for bolstering the Boom bass response but Logitech doesn’t provide a matching sub so its uses seem minimal. At least it doubles as a headphone output for those times when your neighbours have had there fill of DJ NextDoor’s latest hits. Of course, there’s also an Ethernet port for connecting to your wired network.
Setting up the Squeezebox is a doddle if you have a clue what you’re doing in the first place but for the complete novice the sheer wealth of options may be a little overwhelming.
For a start you must sign up for a SqueezeNetwork account, which gives you access to myriad internet radio stations from ShoutCast and live365. Then, if you want to use them, you must also register for the streaming mp3 services like last.fm, as well as your own personal online mp3 store (provided by MP3tunes). Finally, to listen to your own music streaming from your computer, you must use the SqueezeCenter software.
This scans your PC for music files and communicates with the various Squeezeboxes you have around your house. You can add an iTunes library to it, manage your SqueezeNetwork account, and even browse Internet radio stations (and tune in on your PC). There’s one big problem, though…