It doesn't seem all that revolution, but it does appear very well thought out and implemented. Suggested changes, expanded storage and connections for an external monitor.
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Seems silly to me. How different is this from, say, the Escient products? I also think its kind of odd to spend that much on something that is a closed "black box" when you can easily replicate the functionality with known, best-of-class off the shelf hardware. And get something that has much more functionality. Computers for people who don't like computers.
Onhwy61--I agree that the Olive represents an attempt to mask a computer with a more friendly face. I guess my problem is that for any moderately technically competent user--like most of the folks on A'gon--its hard to see the value proposition. Face it, if you can operate a browser, you can surely run iTunes. Frankly, your computer probably already has enough horsepower and disk space to play in this game, and all you need is a reasonable interface between the computer and the stereo... A M-Audio Transit is what, like $100 bucks? I guess my $0.02 for anyone thinking of this is that two years from now, you will feel an awful lot better if you make the moderate investment in learning enough about computers to go with a normal platform instead of this kind of box...
I just read John Atkinson's write-up of this in the S'phile newsletter. We have three laptops and a wireless network in the house, but none of the computers is regularly located in the living room where the audio system is. Although I'd love to have a laptop by my listening spot and select songs from it, it's not a practical arrangement. Seems like the Olive might be a solution since it effectively moves the computer to the audio rack and let's me operate it by remote. But is the display large enough to read from across the room? Is it suitable for browsing my collection, as I would from a laptop? I donlt care about distributing music elsewhere in the house. Are there better solutions for my particular situation?
I called Olive. The "Musica," is the next model up from the one reviewed in the Stereophile newsletter. It has a 160 GB hard drive, but doesn't have the Classical Software for auto cataloging your recordings. I also asked about adding hard drives as mentioned in Stereophile. I was told that capability is not yet available.
I should have thought to ask about the remote control. I wonder if it has a scroll display like an I-pod?
I did a little research on this piece because it somewhat intrigued me. However, there is IMO a better solution. The Apple iMac w/17" screen via airport would offer you much more for you're money. You also get a Screen, you can place it on you're coffee table or if you are farther away the new iMacs come with remote controls. The price is the same as the Musica and you get the same amount of space, 160GB. I realize with the Musica you do have some free digital radio but with a iMac you can digitally stream ANY radio station in the world. It also has built in bluetooth. If someone had there setup by a TV I could see somebody using a mac mini in the same way hooked up to the TV and controlling it via bluetooth from the couch.
Baroque_lover, the Mac Mini route is the way I went. I've got a massive NAS RAID setup with the library on it, and run iTunes via a Mac Mini with a BT keyboard and mouse.
I'm actually thinking of going another route, however. I figure I can pick up a fanless small form factor PC--something like a Sumicom or Serener XP box--for relatively cheap. I can run iTunes off a windows platform, and use a USB audio output device the way I do with my Mac Mini. The benefit of this route is that I can dust off an old 10" viewsonic airpanel--an 802.11 wireless touchscreen display--and run a remote desktop for the PC--having iTunes control while on the couch in touchscreen form.
This also gives me the option of tacking on some USB/RS232 converters, an IR generator, and running Mainlobby and Girder to consolidate all system control functions on the airpanel. Think of it as a 10" color touchscreen wireless remote with iTunes control...
In the past I've used my powerbook hooked up to my system with a USB audio out with favorable results. I was able to use my cell/pda (Sony Ericsson p910i) as a bluetooth remote using the shareware program Salling Clicker, which allowed me to fully control and search itunes (and even the mouse if I wanted to) via the phones graphic interface/touchscreen. I only used the laptop as a jukebox for entertaining or casual listening (yep, it happens from time to time) and when I install my system in my new house I'm going to get a mac mini as a dedicated music server which I will also hook up to my plasma. I was initially all excited by the Olive, but I think anyone with a little ingeniuty can come up with an acceptible and more customizable solution, albeit not in one box. I think the bluetooth/pda controller option is the way to go for those of you interested.
Think the mac mini has to be wired into your system (at least your display), so having it with you isn't really feasible.
For the laptops, the theory is that the airport can be used to stream to a DAC, so you would have the airport next to your stereo, plugged into a wall wart and your DAC via coax. The laptop would stream data to the AP wirelessly. Cannot comment on that one, because I've never tried it, but I'm pretty confident on the set up.
The strange part of the laptop thing that I've never liked is that if you run it in conjunction with a NAS (network attached storage), presumably the laptop has to pull data off the network via 802.11, process it, and then push it back out to the airport for routing to the DAC. Seems like the data has to go both to and from the computer via wireless for that to work, and I don't know whether there is enuf bandwidth. Of course, you can always maintain the library on the notebook. I've never wanted to do that b/c I've got too many files. YMMV.
The squeezebox is a thin-client. You hook a squeezebox up to a network (wireless or wirelessly) and also to your DAC. The squeezebox interacts with an application running on another computer on the network (in background mode, generally), which "pushes" data out to the squeezebox based on input from the IR remote that talks to the squeezebox.