Time for a Squeezebox?

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Hello out there. as many of you know, I’m curretnly trying to save all my pennies for an extended trip to New Zealand for a biking / racing adventure. As such, I’ve had to seriously curtail my extravagant ways. That’s hard for me to do, since I’m a serious gadget guy. Well, for some unknown reason, this morning I got to thinking about a little gadget of Kev’s, the Squeezebox. Mind you, he does have a slightly older model (not nearly as cool looking ;-), but still equally as cool a little device. Kev got his a while ago, and blogged about it in the past. He even mentioned me, but I never took the bait on it. Basically, this thing can allow me to hook up to my music library on my PC, and play it back through my stereo. That’s where things get a little trickier for me. You see, I’ve already got a whole-house sound system, integrated with my computer. I can currently play music on iTunes, and have it routed to the computer room, the rec room, the living room, the kitchen, and even the outdoor speakers all at once (can you tell I dig music?). This has been great for parties. But my big beef about that is that I have no ability to control the music unless I’m at the computer in the basement, which isn’t fun when you’re entertaining. So essentially, I’m thinking of getting this thing simply as a moveable head-end for the PC-based music. Basically, I could move the unit wherever I wanted (provided there’s a plug), and then use the supplied remote to change music on a whim. The key to making this work is that I’d use a wireless router (dirt cheap at about $70), which can talk to the head end, and then use a 3rd party application known as SoftSqueeze, which allows synchronizing the PC playback to the Squeezebox playback (not to mention the ability to stream my library over the web and such if I’m at a party elsewhere and wanted to call up a tune I own!)

My unhappiness lies only in the fact that this would be a fair bit of cost just to control the music remotely. There is apparently a local outfit that sells the Squeezebox now, but at a cost of $349+ tax for the wireless version. Ouch. Perhaps Kev would let me give it a trial run with his unit sometime? Hint hint. I guess I’ve become a lot more interested in this concept after I spent last weekend ripping over 100 of my old CDs onto my computer, so that I’d have a central music spot. I’m also planning on taking my remaining 300+ CDs and ripping them, so that I can do away with messing with the big CD player for parties. It’s much nicer to create playlists on the fly, and have no delay between tunes (and the crossfading and such).

There is also one other nagging question I have. On the Slim Devices website, they mention that you can’t playback any music you buy from the iTunes store. Hunh? That sounds like a pretty big drawback going forward. Granted, my 400+ CD collection is currently all ‘old school’ polycarbonate discs, but going forward I was thinking I should shift to music purchases. Doesn’t this create a problem for me? Is there some way around the problem, like the sharing library option on iTunes? This may end up being another reason not to buy. Also, if anyone has any other suggestions for ways to control my music, I’m all ears. I have a feeling I could just configure one of my two old laptops to act as a wireless head end, but then I’d have to lug around a computer room to room. Of course, that may end up being cheaper….

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