I’ve just posted a review of the Squeezebox Boom, a lovely device that once set up is perfect for hiding all the computer gunk and letting you enjoy the music wherever you are in the house. During the review I noticed that Logitech’s Squeezenetwork, which aggregates a number of Internet radio stations and music services for use with Squeezebox, announced Napster support last week.
I tried this, and it is amazing, though you do need to subscribe to Napster; trial accounts are available. If I want to play any song or album in Napster’s vast library, I select Squeezenetwork as the music source on the Boom, select the Napster music service, search the Napster library, and play the music. No computer has to be running for this to work. Sound quality is good though noticeably worse than locally-streamed lossless FLAC; more radio than hi-fi.
I’ve also been spending time with Spotify. Like Napster, this makes a huge library available, plus it has a couple of advantages. Performance is better, with near-instant search results and playback; and best of all it is free, if you can tolerate occasional advertisements. Unfortunately Spotify does not integrate with Squeezebox yet, though users are clamouring for it.
The Squeezebox is a schizophrenic product with one foot in the old world of local media storage, and one foot in the new world of Internet streaming via Squeezenetwork. Squeezebox plus Napster is great; Squeezebox plus Spotify would be even better. Either one makes Apple’s iTunes purchase-and-download model look dated.