So-Called Smart Radio is a Dumb Move by Logitech
Not even a month after I wrote about my journey to musical bliss and my beloved Squeezebox system, I received news that the idiots in charge at Logitech have pulled the plug on the Squeezebox, discontinuing the entire product line. On the evening of Tuesday, August 28, I was browsing my Twitter feed and saw an announcement from @LogitechUE about “something big” to come the following day (Logitech UE is the brand resulting from Logitech’s acquisition of Ultimate Ears). Being the optimist I am, I was hopeful that this would be something to breathe new life into the Squeezebox product line. Boy, was I ever disappointed on Wednesday morning when it turned out to be a dumbed-down, incompatible rebranding of the Squeezebox Radio as the “Logitech UE Smart Radio .”
Don’t be fooled, people. This new “Smart Radio” is no Squeezebox. It would be more accurate to call it a dumbed-down Squeezebox.
Here’s what I have learned about the new “Smart Radio” so far:
- It requires an Internet connection to function. No, not a network, as you’d expect–an active Internet connection. Yes, even to play the local music stored on your home computers. (It does have a line-in, however, which may work without an Internet connection.)
- It’s for Windows and Mac. No Linux support, unlike the Squeezebox system. (It’s been brought to my attention that Linux software is available for download, but you won’t get support for it.)
- The new Smart Radio won’t be able to sync playback with any of the former Squeezebox devices, but it will be able to do synchronized playback with other Smart Radios.
- UE Media Server setup is easier than the old Logitech Media server used for Squeezebox, but at the cost of significant reduction in features and options.
- In the USA at least, the Smart Radio costs more than the Squeezebox Radio, but it includes the battery pack which was an optional extra for the SB Radio.
- An (ahem) “upgrade” path is provided should you wish to convert your Squeezebox Radio to a UE Smart Radio, but it is a one-way conversion. No going back if you change your mind.
- Logitech has discontinued direct sales and manufacturing of any new Squeezebox models, but you will still be able to buy new existing products through other retail outlets until inventory is depleted.
- Several third-party apps allow iOS and Android devices to act as Squeezeboxes, and there are software players for Windows, Mac and Linux–so existing Squeezebox users can still extend their Squeezebox system to other locations in this way. (See iPeng and SqueezePad for iOS, SqueezePlayer for Android, and SqueezePlay for everything else.)
- Logitech representatives have stated that there are no immediate plans to end any Squeezebox related services including mysqueezebox.com, forums.slimdevices.com, and so on. There will be some updates to the Logitech Media Server software for bug fixes, compatibility, and so on.
- Something akin to the Squeezebox Touch (i.e. a player which would connect to external amp and speakers) under the UE brand has been hinted at, but details have not been revealed.
- Whether there will be ongoing support for services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Slacker, Pandora, etc. in Logitech Media Server is questionable. This is an area that requires Logitech support and can’t be passed to community developers. [Personal aside: Given Logitech’s failure to keep existing services up to date, I don’t really see much hope for this. On the other hand, if the UE media server software continues to share code with the existing Logitech Media Server software, maybe the ongoing maintenance for music services will be rolled together and maintaining them will become a higher priority. Ultimately, though, I fear my access to Rhapsody via the Squeezeboxes I own will fail long before my ability to play my local music does.]
- Existing Squeezebox users have no reason to panic or think about replacing their system in the short term. Your stuff will still work for the foreseeable future. Squeezeboxes are still being sold and they carry a two-year warranty in the USA, so Logitech will have to support them for at least that long (my interpretation).
- There have been hints from some long-time Squeezebox community members and third-party developers at forums.slimdevices.com that plans are underway to keep the Squeezebox platform alive without dependence on Logitech.
Most of the information here was gleaned from the Squeezebox community forum where Michael Herger, a Logitech developer, Ben Klass, a former Logitech employee, and others have been very helpful in providing information about this transition in an unofficial capacity. Personally, I trust these sources more than anything I have seen from official Logitech representatives–in fact, much of the information I have seen from Logitech representatives has been conflicting or just plain wrong.
Here are some additional links to threads and details I found particularly helpful:
From Michael Herger: Logitech | UE Smart Radio looks like a SB Radio, sounds like a SB Radio and is running almost the same software. But it’s supposed to be much easier to use than the Squeezebox. It’s Logitech’s attempt at making the product ready for the mass-market. It still offers almost the same feature set as the SB Radio, the same music service, the same sound, while (hopefully) offering an improved UX [user experience].
Thanks to Squeezebox developer and former Logitech employee Ben Klass for the title of this post and for sharing his insight so candidly. It’s definitely worth reading the full post he wrote in the Squeezebox community forum, some of which is quoted below:
The product itself…man, it’s so notable in how not notable it is. There isn’t one new “wow” thing this has over the 3-year-old SB Radio. And it’s hitting the market at US$179 MSRP. Ouch. Good luck with that, UE… They are leaving their installed customer base and developer base behind, pissing them off and not even offering them an upgrade path. All while having an incomplete new product offering that has no value proposition as it is now. This way, the product will be dead soon.
And here is the official Logitech announcement to Squeezebox customers, from the Logitech Squeezebox forum:
We’ve just announced our new brand, Logitech UE, that merges the design/engineering capability of Logitech and the Squeezebox product with the music know how of Ultimate Ears. This new brand serves music lovers across a wide range of music listening devices, including the Logitech® UE Smart Radio.
Important for you to know, the UE Smart Radio can play alongside your Logitech Squeezebox products, but will operate and be controlled separately. The team is working hard on releasing in a few weeks an optional software update for existing Squeezebox Radio users that will allow Squeezebox Radios to upgrade to the new Logitech UE Smart Radio experience. This update is optional and people who would prefer to maintain their Squeezebox Radio as is can do so. Moving forward, Logitech UE will only be developing for the Smart Radio platform.
That said, the Squeezebox platform you’ve been enjoying over the years will continue to operate as it has, providing you access to a rich world of music and we’ll continue to address any questions or troubleshooting on our Logitech.com support page: http://www.logitech.com/en-us/support/speakers-audio
That’s all I got, folks. My loyalty to Logitech is finished. They won me over with the Squeezebox Boom and Radio and now they’ve lost me with this. They acquired and have nearly killed the Harmony remote brand, Slim Devices and Squeezebox, and are now well on their way to killing the UE brand as well. If you want a real Squeezebox, better high-tail it on over to Amazon and get yourself a Squeezebox Radio or Squeezebox Touch before they are all gone.
If others reading this have more information to add, or corrections to the information I have gathered here, please post in the comments. I felt like I needed to write something about this to follow-up my recent “Journey to Musical Bliss” article, and I thought this could be a sort of quick reference to the demise of the Squeezebox line.
Now excuse me while I wash my hands. I feel dirty from typing “Smart Radio” so many times.
Didn’t Logitech ever hear the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
Will you be doing a post on the Harmony remote? I’d like to hear your take on that.
I doubt it, Mary. I’m not real up to date on Harmony. They did send me some to beta test a while back, but they were far more crippled than the old Harmony 670 we still use. I couldn’t even test because it didn’t support enough devices for our setup. And the software is all web based now and not as good as it used to be. I hate when I have to go in to change settings with ours. I have some dead lines in the LCD of the 670 now and I will be sad if it dies completely.
What is interesting is why they didn’t just change all the menus and the default config in order to do the simplification, they could have left the rest there but hidden it from casual users. I’m with you, totally disappointed by this move.
The Squeezebox Touch and Radio are currently ranked number 6 and 7 respectively in Amazon.com’s list of best-selling multiroom digital music systems. Sonos zoneplayers (120 and 90) are currently ranked 9 and 10 respectively in the same list, but are much more expensive and offer no display or GUI.
So how does killing these products off make sense? How could Logitech have been losing money on them? For people who recognize how good of a product the Touch is, it was always a screaming bargain at the street price of $250. The next best thing of its kind is the Sonos Zoneplayer 90 at $350.
Logitech’s exit leaves a yawning chasm between the $99 Apple TV (or Airport Express) and the $350 Sonos Zoneplayer 90, neither of which can stream 24 bit/96kHz material. There has to be money to be made there by a competent and popular product that Logitech already had established. Business logic seems to elude Logitech.
Please help me with a doubt. I want to buy my first squeezebox. Shoud I go for the squeezebox or the new “smart radio”? Thanks.
Well, as you can imagine, I am a Squeezebox die-hard, so that is what I would recommend. I have no experience with the UE Smart Radio, but my understanding is that it is less flexible. It may be easier to set up seeing as how it has less features.
I have just “retrograded” my Smart Radio to use the Squeezebox firmware. The process is bonehead simple (I synthesized various posts to make it simpler still). So my answer would be buy the cheapest, but use the Squeezebox firmware.
Good to know! Thanks for sharing!
If anyone is interested I can send my short-form instructions. Contact me at [email protected] and I will reply with a pdf.
Or see post #67 http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?97331-Downgrade-UE-Smart-Radio-to-Squeeze-OS/page7
I can only thank the people who did the heavy lifting.
I planned on buying my mother-in-law a squeezebox for Christmas as I love mine. I understand from reading your blog you feel we will have support for at least the 2 years in is in warranty. There may be support from geeks like you, I hope.
I love my squeezebox. The sound is great. I, too, hate that Logitech has dropped it.
What a great daughter-in-law you are! The community forum at http://forums.slimdevices.com is a great place for Squeezebox support.
I sold my 3 SqueezeBox booms, one SqueezeBox Touch and my SqueezeBox Duet. I’ve replaced them with Sonos components. I will never buy another Logitech product if I can possibly help it. I kept my 5 SqueezeBox radios for bedside and bathrooms but may be ditching those as well. Logitech is just completely clueless.
seems like a bit of an overreaction.
Not at all. It was one the best decisions I ever made. Sonos is far superior to SqueezeBox players in every way. The only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.
Hi Sue, thanks for compiling informations form various sources into this one.. by far most clear and extensive post about insane Logitech move… I love my Sb’s so much, its just unbelievable they killed it 🙁
On other hand I believe SB will live for years regardless!!! cheers
Here’s a counter-opinion. I’ve had a Squeezebox Radio for two years. I’ve had constant disconnecting problems with it, not from the wi-fi, from the server. I have tried everything, including buying a repeater because the wi-fi signal is somewhat lower than elsewhere in the house, and uninstalling and re-installing the server, putting it on different computers, etc. Typically it would run from one to three hours and then just disconnect. It wouldn’t reconnect for some period of time regardless of rebooting, restarting the server, etc.
That ended with the UE firmware install and the UE server. I haven’t had a single second of dead air since I did it.
I also find that the iPhone app integrates well, better than the third party app I was using before. It seems easier to get to stations than it did before.
I don’t use it with my music library, so I can’t comment on that. I did try some plug-ins before and didn’t find them useful.
Just one person’s opinion, but I’ve done it and lived with it. I don’t complain about things I have not tried.
Clearly you only own a single radio unit or few of them… unless you don’t have any other squeezebox products and don’t use then in sync mode for multiroom experience you would not understand what the whole fuss is about!! And possibility to play my music everywhere in my house was main reason I got squeezebox (plus many others) so please imagine that upgrading to UE is not an option for many in my position… Anyway just got myself another touch and radio is on away… Both products might go down in price but I’m not willing to risk and wait…. Would be using squeezeboxes for years regardless of what Logitech does with UE.. Kill the line within few years probably… Oh and no more Logitech gear for me… No loyalty for customers no loyalty for manufacturer!!
Martin, the long litany of complaints in the original article do not reference multiple units. While that may be a problem, most of the original article comes across as whining without trying. It works better for me than it did before. That is a fact. Most of the problems in the original article are not problems.
Hi realspear, apologies for tone of my reply.. I’m happy that it works better for you and that you can enjoy your favorite music. I just wish Logitech did consider other users like myself who own other products from squeezebox family. It looks like they had just ignored us completely. anyway i’m about to buy another Touch as spare 😉
I agree with Realspear. The logitech media server has never been reliable for me even running on a standalone windows server. Also, the constant firmware upgrades to the sb radios was testament to how buggy it was. Wireless disconnects are par for the course. I have a love/hate relationship with these things. My sb Touch will stay in use via usb and feed my whole house speaker system. I just converted my 3 sb radios to ue and there is a sync option. So far so good but at least I know Logitech will be supporting the firmware and if they can’t get it right this time, I’ll buy something else.
I have a similar experience. After having had a slim/squeezebox server for the music I ditched it in favor of Spotify and MP3Tunes (for all my ripped music). The UE SmartRadio is way better in that set-up. Much simpler, much more stable. So I have updated all my Radios … what I really complain is that they have not released the same upgrade for the Touch (of which I have 3). The rest of the old players I could live without an upgrade, but the Radio and Touch sort of went hand in hand. Should be possible to do.
So. Basically I think they are spot on with a simpler INTERNET connected device using all those services out there. In my mind the days of CD/DVD is long gone, and since a year or so, the idea of everyone having your own server for music is also dead. No need.
I have an extensive CD collection but also subscribe to some online services. Until ISP’s decide that bandwidth is all you can eat there will always be a need for a local server. Also, when Logitech shuts down MySqueezebox.com in a few years, your only option for the three touches will be connecting them to a local server. The touch units will not be ported over to the new UE architecture. I’d sell them while you can.
Smart Radio works fine! No hassle with network logins etc. Better then my squeezebox software actually!
I installed this crap UE software on my squeezebox. Is the really no going back? I feel tricked.
I own 2 Duets, but in the process of selling them off. The asking price of the Touch these days is outrageous, plus the Duet and Classic wont do 24/96 over S/PDIF. The best route now is to use something like a Raspberry Pi or CuBox, install Squeezelite, and hook up a USB DAC. Exact same functionality, better quality audio, and can be done for less than $200.
I have been using my Squeezebox v3 since 2005 and it has never lost the crown of most revered (speakers not included) piece of hardware. It was always a pleasure to use with its well designed web interface, and the ability to play most file types (including FLAC) has always been second to none. When they produced the iPod/iPhone/IPad app for the device, it took on an entirely new level of usability. To hear of it’s demise, and sadly it appears my v3 is finally on the way out, it’s truly a sad day for streaming music.
I merrily upgraded to so-called uesmartradio and was very disappointed to find that there is no way (as under the “old” software) to create favorites via the web login and have them pushed out to the radio. Stupid upgrade!
Easy to go back to your SB. see my April 6 comment
Does anyone know if any of the apps out there will also give me the functionality of the Duet Controller? Not streaming to my phone, but telling the receiver which songs to play to my stereo system?
Yes, there are lots of them for every p,at form you could want. There is an official app from Logitech that works just like the controller, and then there is iPeng and Squeezepad for iOS, several for Android and so on.
Very frustrated at how bid the Duets are on eBay. I figured I could pick up one or two more for a song. Hardly. Lots of geeks out there with a clue.
You forgot to mention one very important thing. No support for 3rd party plugins and there a lot of plugins out there…
Owners of the Squeezebox UE radio can convert to regular Squeezeboxes