The Squeezebox Touch’s touch-screen makes operating the device extremely easy. While the user interface isn’t particularly flashy or colorful, it serves its purpose well and is intelligible enough for novices. Headings and subheadings make sense, thus making access to a specific song or artist a snap. If you tire of using the touch-screen or just need access from across the room, a full function remote control is provided that allows menu navigation, volume control, a sleep timer, “home” key, shuffle, track advance and power on/off.
We started off our listening tests with one of our Pandora radio stations. We immediately noticed that, regardless of analog or digital audio connections, the fidelity of these streamed music files was much better than what we get from our iPhone and iPod Touch’s Pandora interface. Otherwise, the experience is identical to using Pandora’s website. We could view album art, thumbs up or down songs as necessary and get additional artist or track information at the touch of a button.
We then switched to our iTunes music library and selected one of the many available playlists. The experience was very similar to using iTunes. Album art is prominently displayed as is track progress, artist and song information. As we toggled between compressed and uncompressed versions of the same tracks, the difference in quality was obvious. The Sqeezebox Touch streamed the uncompressed and high resolution music with ease and didn’t spend any time buffering. Access was, again, immediate.
The sheer number of internet radio stations is dizzying. Thankfully, the Squeezebox Touch’s internet radio interface is extremely easy to use. You can navigate a menu of choices or use the extremely intuitive search options to find exactly what you want.
In terms of sound quality, we noticed an appreciable improvement when we used a digital connection to our receiver. The digital connection exposed more detail and depth from our high quality test tracks than the analog connection was capable of. We were pleased to see that, even with a digital connection, the Squeezebox’s on-board volume control was still functional. This allowed us to move about the room with just one remote in tow- a nice convenience feature.
We have just a couple of minor gripes with the Squeezebox Touch: The server software that we installed on our home computer for iTunes access was resource intensive. We found it was taking up a big portion of our PC’s RAM. For those with less than up-to-date computers, the server software may choke up performance a bit and, since the server software isn’t easily disabled, this may become more than just a minor inconvenience. Also, though the Squeezebox can access music files outside the iTunes library, we noticed that the server software only allowed us to monitor ONE folder at a time. This made integrating music outside of our iTunes library more complicated since we were only able to access either iTunes OR Windows media files at once, not both. Finally, the audio output of the Squeezebox was a little bright for out taste, even through the digital audio connections. While this won’t be a problem for most listeners, some audiophiles may balk at the somewhat flashy sound.
The addition of a touch-screen to Logitech’s already comprehensively featured Squeezebox music player goes beyond “cool factor” to make the user interface much more intuitive and easier to use than previous generations. Armed with the capability to play back just about any music file, easy access to internet music content, simple set up, flexible audio outputs and a bunch of other little goodies, the Squeezebox Touch is the internet music player to beat. Big Kudos to Logitech for integrating a useful touch-screen feature without inflating the cost of the player.
The biggest issue people are going to have with the Squeezebox Touch is the price. At $300, you could buy an iPod dock for your receiver at half the price and get similar features. Or, simply buy a used laptop and connect it to your receiver that way, plus you will get more use out of it as a whole. Plus, at this price point the screen should be bigger considering the large bezel.
If money is no object and you want something small and sleek to add more music options to your system, the Squeezebox Touch works great. Those more value-minded will want to go with an alternative option however.
- Convenient touch-screen
- Apps for Pandora, Rhapsody and much more
- Powerful Internet Radio search.
- Handles high resolution audio
- Analog Audio outputs sound bright
- Large Bezel
- Screen should be bigger
- Did we mention the price?