Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A nice boombox

I was a big fan of Logitech's Squeezebox Duet, which I saw demonstrated at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, and today Logitech announced a follow-up that looks even better: a boombox for your digital music collection. And unlike the Duet, which had to be plugged into a stereo, the Boom has speakers.
Once again, CNET's John Falcone has beaten me to the punch with a full review, but even without his validation, at first glance this looks like a great product for users with large collections of digital music trapped on their computers. Beginning in September, $300 will get you a boombox that can connect to your computer over a Wi-Fi network, and plays a huge variety of files--not just garden-variety MP3s, WMAs, and AACs, but also relative rarities beloved by digital audiophiles like Ogg, FLAC, and Apple Lossless. The necessary software works not only with PC and Mac but various flavors of Linux (including a Debian/Ubuntu installation package). It also lets you connect to various Internet radio services, such as Pandora, Rhapsody, and LastFM. The only possible drawback: it can't play DRM-protected files. Which means if a large portion of your digital music collection was purchased from iTunes (or a WMA competitor) before the last year when these services began offering more DRM-free files, you won't be able to play it on the Boom.
An aside: the product line is called Squeezebox, which I assumed was a reference to the 1975 Who song. But Logitech's product shots show the Boom playing "Tempted," the 1981 single by Squeeze. So which is it--Who fans or Squeeze fans?

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