The OpenSqueeze comes in a plain cardboard box with a product sticker on top, describing in short what the devices is capable of. Inside said box you'll find small set up manual, the OpenSqueeze and an USB power cable. The wall charger comes in a separate package, VidaBox ships a HP AC/DC Adapter with output specs of 5.3v/2.0A. Maximum power draw listed for the OpenSqueeze is 3W. We measured peak 4W, but mostly it remained under the detectable limit of our Kill-A-Watt meter. Running the OpenSqueeze won't add to your power-bill! (We used a Samsung USB wall charger (5v/2A) as the HP unit only had US type power connector, VidaBox does recommend a stable and quality USB wall charger, so no low-cost knock-offs or the device stability and sound quality will suffer!)
*note: VidaBox has changed the USB power adapter to a smaller generic model with same noise-free capabilities in retail models of the OpenSqueeze.
The device has two USB ports, they can be used to hook up a wireless USB dongle to give the device more freedom, without it, you are limited to place it where there's an UTP network cable. The software runs from a 4GB Kingston MicroSD HC Card. The audio ouput is a standard 3.5mm jack, you can connect it to headphones, powered speakers or your amplifier. At the other side of the box is the power connector, on/off switch and a closed off HDMI port.
With two USB ports and HDMI, we just had to know what would happen if we hooked up keyboard,mouse and monitor. A Debian Install 7.0 Cubian reveals itself. But nothing more you can do from here without delving into the guts of the Squeezebox software setup.
Managing the OpenSqueeze is done through the Logitech Media Server which is a free download for Windows, Mac, Linux as well as some NAS boxes. We installed it on a Windows 7 machine as well as a Synology NAS. Once installed and your media folders and desired audio sources selected start up LMS and check in the top right corner for a drop-down menu. If all is well the Squeezebox received an IP address from your local DHCP server and shows up in the list. We configured two OpenSqueeze boxes to try out the different music streams and sync playing.
Controlling audio playback can either be done through the web interface of the Logitech Media Server or you can download the "Squeezebox" mobile app for iOS and Android. The app looks and behaves the same on both platforms, giving you all playback options you also have through the full webinterface.
Setting up a music sync between two (or more) Squeezeboxes is straight forward, start playback on device A. Choose player B, sync it to device A, done! We compared this solution to Apple's "Airplay" speakers, and found the music to be more in sync with the two Squeezeboxes compared to the Apple iTunes setup. We did do some research for the iTunes setup and found that if you configure the local PC speakers as an "Airplay" device you can reduce the sync delay between the speakers (Shairport). Nevertheless with the OpenSqueeze no delay/echo was noticeable, and there was the added bonus to be able to play different music through each speaker set.
After using the VidaBox OpenSqueeze devices we attest to their design quality and easiness of use. For those who are already invested into a Logitech Media Server setup the choice is simple, the VidaBox OpenSqueeze Solo offers a no-fuss out of the box solution for your home music playback setup, co-existing nicely with other Squeezeboxes on the network. If you're not a Logitech Media Server user the outcome is less clear. The cost of the OpenSqueeze Solo doesn't qualify as an impulse buy, at €239 list price it is in fact the most expensive streaming media player we tested yet.
However for your money you get a very compact and capable playback device, if you're an audiophile with a mid-to-high end speaker setup the OpenSqueeze Solo will surely deliver the audio clarity that you're looking for, surpassing that of Apple's solution and Noxon. If you're more a DIY enthusiast you can get similar results from a Raspberry Pi device with USB DAC, but you're going to have to know what you're doing, or you might end up quickly with a €100 paperweight, this risk you don't run with the OpenSqueeze Solo. So you're actually buying a peace of mind.
If you're not an audiophile however, the case for the OpenSqueeze Solo becomes harder, Noxon and Apple, amongst others, deliver plug and play audio streaming possibility for your music, if you're not going to set up a multi-room system, the extra cost of the OpenSqueeze Solo is prohibitive for a recommendation.
As it stands, VidaBox has extended the life of the Logitech SqueezeBox solution for the masses with a technically high end device which is easy to set up and configure.
VidaBox OpenSqueeze Solo Recommended For
If there's one thing we'd like to see included for the price: USB Wifi Dongle. Having to buy one to get the away from a wired network adds to the already high cost. We like to thank VidaBox for allowing us to test drive their latest products. Thank you for reading.