The Logitech Squeezebox Duet is an elegant digital music streaming system that's simple to set up and use.

Few digital music streaming devices have caught on. Sure, such devices let you stream music over a wireless network, but they've either been inexpensive and clunky - with complicated setups to connect to your network and tiny, text-only screens - or they've been more graceful but pricey.

The new Squeezebox Duet, from Logitech division Slim Devices, tries - and mostly succeeds - at splitting the difference between those two extremes. At £199 for a one-room setup and £279 for a two-room system, the Logitech Squeezebox Duet costs about half the price of the Sonos system.

And the Logitech Squeezebox Duet shares some of the features of its more expensive competition, including an elegant remote control with a colour LCD.

Getting up and running with the Logitech Squeezebox Duet is easier than with most other streaming devices we've tried. The Duet detected the networks in our area, and let me choose which one to join.

In our testing so far, the Logitech Squeezebox Duet has seemed pretty reliable. Other streamers we've tested - the cheap ones regularly, but even the Sonos Digital Music System on occasion - lost contact with our wireless network. We didn't have that problem with the Duet.

The receiver portion of the Logitech Squeezebox Duet is a basic black box with just one button in the front (you push it to prompt the box to connect to your wireless network). It has RCA, optical, and digital coax outputs for connecting to a stereo, boom box, or powered speakers.

If you have two Duet receivers (an extra receiver is £99), Slim Devices says you can either play different music in two rooms or synchronise the two receivers and have the same music playing in both rooms. The company supplied only one receiver, so we couldn't test how well that feature works.

Once you have the Logitech Squeezebox Duet configured to work with your network, you have lots of musical playback choices. The Duet handles most audio formats that you can think of, including standard fare such as MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis; lossless formats such as FLAC and Apple Lossless; and uncompressed formats such as .wav and AIFF.

The Logitech Squeezebox Duet's one gaping hole: it won't play files with any sort of digital rights management protection. In addition to streaming music from your PC, the Duet will also connect with numerous online music sources, including paid services such as Rhapsody, Pandora, and Slacker, plus free internet radio stations. If you don't already have accounts, you can sign up for premium services through squeezenetwork.com, a site associated with your Duet.

The web service still has some kinks to work out. The squeezenetwork.com site had some bugs when we used it, for example. We attempted to sign up for Pandora, filling out all the required boxes, and when we clicked submit we received an error message that said, literally, "BLAH BLAH".

Not exceptionally helpful. We successfully signed up for Last.fm, but once we did so, we couldn't find any way to play the service through the Logitech Squeezebox Duet.

NEXT PAGE: using the controller, and our expert verdict > >

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The Logitech Squeezebox Duet is an elegant digital music streaming system that's simple to set up and use.

Using the Logitech Squeezebox Duet's controller to navigate the playback options is mostly a pleasure. The navigation makes sense, and the 2.4in colour screen gives you lots of room to see your choices. Once you decide on an album to play, you can view the album's cover art. The display features crystal-clear text, though you do get what you pay for (the screen is neither as large nor as bright and luxurious as the screen on the Sonos controller).

We have only two gripes about the Logitech Squeezebox Duet, both of which came up in the course of my testing. The scrollwheel on the controller is not as responsive as those you'll find on an iPod. Getting to the exact menu item we were interested in was frequently frustrating.

We also experienced long lag times between pressing a button and seeing a result. Some of the delays occurred when the system was dealing with resources on the web, and so the lag may be attributed to latency on the net. Other times, however, something as simple as changing the volume took a few seconds to kick in.

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Logitech Squeezebox Duet: Specs

  • Squeezebox Controller: 2.4in colour LCD TFT display with backlight
  • rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • built-in 802.11b/g wireless. Squeezebox Receiver: digital optical, coax, and analogue connectors
  • High-fidelity 24-bit Wolfson DAC
  • plays MP3, AAC, WMA, Ogg, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless, and WAV music files
  • built-in 802.11b/g wireless
  • 10/100Mbps ethernet port
  • connects to SqueezeCenter software, providing access to music libraries on local computers
  • connects to SqueezeNetwork for access to internet radio and online music services
  • Squeezebox Controller: 2.4in colour LCD TFT display with backlight
  • rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • built-in 802.11b/g wireless. Squeezebox Receiver: digital optical, coax, and analogue connectors
  • High-fidelity 24-bit Wolfson DAC
  • plays MP3, AAC, WMA, Ogg, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA Lossless, and WAV music files
  • built-in 802.11b/g wireless
  • 10/100Mbps ethernet port
  • connects to SqueezeCenter software, providing access to music libraries on local computers
  • connects to SqueezeNetwork for access to internet radio and online music services

OUR VERDICT

Our quibbles with the Logitech Squeezebox Duet are relatively minor. Overall, this is an elegant system that's simple to set up and use, and it offers a reasonably priced alternative to high-end products such as the Sonos Digital Music System.

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