33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Great internet radio, rich features, good sound, easy to use
, 25 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Logitech UE Smart Radio - Black (Electronics)
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This is more than just an Internet radio. Out of the box, it will play internet radio with thousands of stations available, no setup required beyond connection to your home network, usually Wi-Fi though a port for wired Ethernet is available too. Find a station you like, press a preset and it is saved.
Sound quality is mono, but surprisingly rich and deep, thanks to separate woofer and tweeter and the usual high quality of the Squeezebox system.
Squeezebox system? This is where you need a little background. Squeezebox was originally a system for streaming music from your computer to one or more players around the house. It was extended via plugins to support internet radio and more. A great system, but users found it too complicated, or Logitech thought that they did, so the Squeezebox brand seems to have been abandoned.
It lives on here, though in simplified form. You can download the UE Music Library and install it on a PC or Mac, whereupon the Smart Radio will automatically find it and list your music collection as My Music. Supported formats are MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and Apple Lossless. Album artwork shows up on the 2.4 inch colour screen.
The UE Music Library is none other than the old Squeezebox server, though cut down so that features such as plugins, playlist, and remote control of players are missing. This is annoying. Worse still, there is no compatibility. The Smart Radio cannot play music from an existing Squeezebox server, and an old Squeezebox cannot connect to UE Music Library.
While that sounds bad, it is not as bad as it seems. You can install the UE Music Library alongside a Squeezebox server, and it automatically sorts out the ports so it can run side by side and stream the same music collection. Although it is a shame to lose features, the new system does require less configuration, and retains its most important feature, which is to let you play music anywhere in the house.
You can download a remote app for iPhone and Android that lets you control your Smart Radio, selecting stations or tracks and albums from your music library. Search is easier on the remote app than with the rotary controller on the Radio itself. No iPad support yet, which is a shame.
You can also log in to Logitech's cloud service, where you can add services such as Spotify, Live Music Archive and Last.fm, though note that most of these require a paid subscription for full access.
The Smart Radio makes a neat 7-day clock radio. When in standby it shows a clock with date and time, and you can set alarms to sound only on selected days.
Physically the Smart Radio is very similar to the Squeezebox Radio. However, the Smart Radio comes with a 6-hour rechargeable battery included, which is handy. If you don't need the battery, the old model may be better value.
There is also a hidden feature, an infrared receptor. Point a Squeezebox remote at the unit and it works, though no remote is supplied and since it is undocumented I guess this feature might disappear in later production runs.
As a long-term Squeezebox enthusiast I came to the UE Smart Radio expecting to be disappointed, but was pleasantly surprised. It is still a slightly quirky system, but the added ease of use made me understand why Logitech has chosen to remove some features. You no longer need to select between a local and internet server, making it less confusing, unless for some reason you have multiple Music Libraries installed on the network (and why would you?).
There are a few things I would like to see. There is no line out other than the headphone socket, and I would prefer a fixed output for connection to a hi-fi system, especially if the other Squeezebox players disappear. I also find the controls non-intuitive at times.
Still, look at what you get. Physically the Smart Radio is great, well made, with a beautiful black gloss finish. Sound is excellent. And you can still play your small or large home music collection as well as connecting to a huge range of Internet radio stations and other music services. It may seem expensive, but once you appreciate the capabilities on offer it is good value.
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