Customer Review

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Sep 2012 08:45:12 BDT
R. Mascall says:
Thanks for such a comprehensive review. You say "The Smart Radio makes a neat 7-day clock radio. When in standby it shows a clock with date and time ..." Does that mean that when the alarm time is reached and the radio comes on, one can no longer see what the time is ? And a second question : does the clock display fill the screen or does it use relatively small characters ?

Richard Mascall

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2012 09:20:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Sep 2012 09:33:26 BDT
Hi Richard

The clock display is fairly large for the time but quite small for the date.

Note that on battery power I've found that the unit turns itself off and the clock no longer shows after a period. However it is smart enough to turn itself back on just before the alarm fires; I've tested this and it does work, though of course only if the battery still has some life. On mains the clock seems to show all the time on standby. In other words, I'd suggest using mains power if you are using the alarm feature, which I imagine you would anyway.

When the alarm triggers the time is shown in bold letters, and there are options for Snooze and Turn off alarm. At least, that is how it normally works. On one test I got the now playing screen instead, which still shows the time but in very small type at the bottom of the screen. Not sure why; clearly the bold option with Snooze is how it is meant to work.

I suspect there are a few niggles in the firmware that will be sorted out eventually.

Tim

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2012 09:28:24 BDT
R. Mascall says:
Many thanks.

Richard

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2012 14:17:34 BDT
Richard

Also worth noting that the alarms are stored on the internet. I have not checked, but I suspect that if the internet connection failed you would not be woken up :-)

Tim

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Oct 2012 12:30:53 GMT
M. Jackowski says:
I bet it will still wake you up but with terrible generic alarm sound as it is on Squeezbox radio. If for some reason radio cannot connect to internet station it plays build in ringtone. please note I do not own this product but I get assumption from Squeezbox radio as it's basically same harware with limited software. btw that's why i would never buy any UE product as it won't be compatibile with my other squezzboxes - shame on you Logitech !!!

Posted on 17 Nov 2012 13:50:47 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Nov 2012 13:59:04 GMT
A really excellent review. However, it does not cover fully our requirements, as we are trying to decide between the smartbox and the squeeze box radios. We only want an internet radio, and we are not interested in all the fancy gadgets for music play lists, as we do not have any. We had a squeeze box, but it gave up the ghost after three years. However, the sound quality was excellent and we have not seen a comparable internet radio.
We live in France, and basically want to listen to UK radio stations such as the BBC and Classic FM. It would also help if we could find an internet radio station which has an English commentary for formula one races which does not refuse to work because we are not in the proper area.
You say that the smart radio is easier to use, but as we do not need an internal battery, the old squeeze box may be better value for money. As our squeeze box gave up after only three years, we are reluctant to buy the same radio again.
Which woud radio would you recommend for absolute beginners who only want an easily used internet radio, with good sound quality, small size, and no need for an internal battery?
Many thanks,
David

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 07:13:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Nov 2012 07:13:43 GMT
I like the Squeezebox or UE Smart Radio - you can upgrade the firmware on the old one to the new system which might be worth it if you don't use the music features or the battery. There are some other slightly cheaper internet radios out there though. No idea which will last longer but the Logitech feels well made to me.

Tim

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 10:38:51 GMT
Thanks very much Tim, very helpful.

David
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