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Logitech Buys Slim Devices 80

Posted by pudge
Logitech today announced the purchase of Slim Devices, longtime makers of network audio players SliMP3, Squeezebox, and the new Transporter. A couple years back Logitech bought Harmony Remote, becoming the makers of all my wireless control devices for my entertainment center (Bluetooth mouse, remote control, and PS2 controllers). Now they make my Squeezebox, too.
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Logitech Buys Slim Devices

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  • Not so sure ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrbanzai (799285) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:21PM (#16495939) Homepage
    My experience with Logitech hasn't exactly been stellar. While my Squeezebox is probably my favorite piece of equipment in my entertainment system, I have a box of cast-away Logitech parts that don't seem to adhere to the same quality standards. Additionally, one thing I cherish about my Squeezebox is its integration with SlimServer running on a Linux machine. SlimServer has its oddities, but in general it's a solid piece of software. I'm uncertain that Logitech would be as supportive of Linux as Slim Devices currently is. Prove me wrong, Logitech, prove me wrong ... please?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bartyboy (99076)
      My experience with Logitech (or their Harmony Remote) has been stellar. My Harmony Remote 680 is probably my favorite piece of equipment in my entertainment system, and I only bought one because it controls everything I own and doesn't break after I drop it. Additionally, one thing I cherish about my Harmony Remote is its integration with the remote control database and ease of setup. The remote has a few oddities, but it's a solid piece of hardware. I'm certain that Logitech has not screwed up Harmony
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dubiousmike (558126)
        Their remotes is supposed to be the OS X of universal remotes. Its what you are supposed to buy for your relatives who can't set the microwave clock. And yet my 50 something year old mother doesn't use it because its too confusing.

        Can't win...
        • My 65 year old mother uses hers just fine. She thinks the marco buttons on the top are the best feature.
        • I love my Harmony, but I think people need a good introduction to it, otherwise they don't understand it, because they think it's more complicated than it is. My dad came over, picked up the remote and turned off the TV, but not using the big "Off" button at the top... he went through the device menu, selected TV, then hit the soft button for power. Then he proudly proclaimed that it was a man's remote because women wouldn't be able to use it.

          I didn't have the heart to tell him that you can do just abo
        • by greed (112493)
          I tried a Harmony. It had no way of controlling by DVD carousel player without going to the per-device soft menu and through 4 screens to get the disc change buttons. Despite the fact that it claimed to know about my model of player; there were no disc change commands under "Play a DVD".

          So I'm still using the Sony RM-AV3000; and I wish I could get a Marantz RC2000 Mk II... my RC2000 Mk I got dropped on the floor just a _few_ too many times....

          (It might become moot; I'm thinking of getting rid of the chang
          • by metamatic (202216)
            You know you can change the commands on the various screens, right? Put disc change buttons on the "Play a DVD" screen?
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by profplump (309017)
            You're aware that you can re-map both the hard and soft buttons arbitrarily, right? If it knows a command to make disks change, you can make any button you like send that command.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mspohr (589790)
        My Harmony remote has been great. It's easy to set up thanks to the online configuration databank.

        Also, big suprise was that they have great technical support. I had a question and talked to a real person who was very helpful. The tech support people can even set up your device for you since they store the configuration in their database.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by asdhwesd (253232)
      I agree... Slim Devices has done a good job of communicating and working with its customers over the years to make things work better and in adding new features.

      This is a sad day for Squeezebox owners and fans of Slim Devices.

      As said by someone elsewhere in this thread, I just hate it when big companys buy little companies out.

      http://www.slimdevices.com/ [slimdevices.com]
    • logitech is the kmart of peripherals but they do make a decent enough speaker dock for the ipod... the only upswing for linux users is that slimserver is open source, do i see a fork? will logitech release less expensive wired-only squeezebox?

      it's sad news really. nice people @ slim...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I don't understand your point... Why would slimserver be forked? Because it's now owned by Logitech? I fail to see the connection...

        There is a wired-only squeezebox by the way (https://secure.slimdevices.com/order/index.cgi), but for some reason the resellers don't seem to have it in stock.

        • by djfake (977121)
          Will Logitech keep slimserver software open-source? free? under gpl? Who knows . . . A wired-only, no-display device; in other words, one that costs about $100 bucks or less. The display is the most expensive part of the Squeezebox.
          • I'm a little slow at responding... slimserver 6.5 works like charm as far as I'm concerned, and it will stay GPL. There's absolutely nothing Logitech can do about that. Additional features are of course nice, but slimserver is "ready enough" that those can be implemented by third parties if Logitech decided to relicense the code... I don't think that parts are really a major factor in the price in this case... Or are two-bit displays really that expensive?
            • Let me try that again with formatting:

              I'm a little slow at responding...

              Slimserver 6.5 works like charm as far as I'm concerned, and it will stay GPL. There's absolutely nothing Logitech can do about that. Additional features are of course nice, but slimserver is "ready enough" that those can be implemented by third parties if Logitech decided to relicense the code...

              I don't think that parts are really a major factor in the price in this case... Or are two-bit displays really that expensive?
            • by djfake (977121)
              At somepoint I remember reading that the display was the most expensive component in the Squeezebox. When the squeeze2 came out, one could upgrade the display on the squeeze1 for around $80. In my case, I use a Nokia 770 as the remote, so I just need "the connection". At any rate, $250-300 isn't a price point where I'm going to have a "many" Squeezes in my home. c
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AmaDaden (794446)
      My experience with Logitech hasn't exactly been stellar.

      Really? I have never had any problems with Logitech what so ever in the past few years. To the point where I only buy Logitech stuff. The same is true for my friends. What logitech stuff have you guys had problems with? I've never used anything from Slim Devices but I would think that this would be good for them. Logicitech should have the power and money to make what ever they make even better or at the very lest cheaper and easier to find.
      • by djfake (977121)
        I think most people's concern is that when you take a entreprenurial venture like slim and try to translate it to the corporate mold (in order to justify the US$20 million paid!!!), the passion quickly gets swept away into product, marketing, supply channel and all the other.
        I got into slim when it first came out, and because it had a linux version of the software. my "music box" is exclusively linux and I sure don't want to change that. Corporate shows little regard for open source - just try to find an mp
    • The original, Harmony designed, remotes are still sought after on eBay, while the Logitech ones are seemingly designed by people that control them with something besides fingers (mine has a left-right-up-down key pad/ring that can only be operated with the tip of the thumbnail).

      The web site for configuring the remote used to be pretty good. Now, it appears I have to use a downloadable application (60 MB) to configure the remote. The application has the worst UI I've seen in a very long time (I'm using the
    • I've certainly been involved in worse meetings in my career than the one earlier this week where the Logitech CEO and several executives came to our offices to announce the acquisition to the employees.

      Certainly time will be the only way to know for sure, but we have a good amount of faith in Sean Adams, our old CEO, to have made sure that Logitech will allow us to do what we need to do to continue making the products we want to make. They seem to have listened well to him and the other people from Slim in
    • by klausboop (322537)
      Just wanted to add my deepest, strongest seconding of your wish that Logitech keeps the SlimServer OSS project going. I do not own a Squeezebox, can't afford it, but I've used SlimServer for years, streaming music from home to my laptop at work and also to PCs around the house, including one hooked to my stereo. I LOVE this software, especially with the improvements they've made over the years. I'll be heartbroken if it's gone.

      On the other hand, maybe Logitech will finally come out with a cheap, displayl
  • by WasterDave (20047) <davepNO@SPAMzedkep.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:22PM (#16495947)
    ....were on slashdot a few years back hand soldering resistors onto logic boards to get their first batch out the door? If it was, well, way to go back bedroom hardware hackers! There is hope beyond yet another godforsaken web project yet :)

    Dave
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I believe you're thinking of the same crew. I've done a little work with the owner, Sean Adams over email. When I last looked in on slimdevices about a year ago, he had a shippable product, but it did indeed still seem quite home-grown. Seems to have paid off - congrats Sean!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Holmwood (899130)
        Version 3 of of Slim Devices Squeezebox is quite polished. I agree, V2 looked a bit clunky.

        Moreover, the informal tech support on their boards is amazingly good, IMHO. I posted about a problem in the evening one holiday weekend, and their CTO posted back with a suggested solution later that night. Now a fan of their products, sure, but the CTO? Great.

        In the short term, this is great news for the employees (assuming they have options/stock in the company) and founders. Shareholders can cash out and get a ret
        • These are exactly my thoughts. Small and agile company with a great vision gets bought by a larger, richer, simply *clunkier*, corporation ... I wonder if the greatness of SlimDevices will survive.

          I know that the *brand* will deteriorate, being now affiliated with a maker of electro-trinkets. They were well on their way to bringing home high fidelity to the masses, but they may just have stepped in a huge puddle of mud.

          Oh, how I hope the 'Slimdevice-ishness' will prevail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by notanatheist (581086)
      You're very right. The original version was a rather crude product but it worked. The SB3 (same hardware as the SB2) is a much more refined product. Nothing else on the market comes close to it's performance. Sonos is cool but isn't as fast and responsive as the SB. Also, Slimdevices is a much more open community with an extensive set of plugins for obtaining information on the VFD. Personally, I only use the Alarm Clock and Weather plugins. With Logitech's acquisition there is hope of bringing the price do
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jacobcaz (91509)
      ....were on slashdot a few years back hand soldering resistors onto logic boards to get their first batch out the door? If it was, well, way to go back bedroom hardware hackers! There is hope beyond yet another godforsaken web project yet :)

      Yep, and they make a good product. I bought one of the first 100 (which were the hand assembled units) - I believe I have #49 - and it still works like a champ. About two years after I bought it I emailed Sean Adams (the CEO) and inquired about the case upgrade whic

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:23PM (#16495953)
    logitech makes CRAPPY drivers. their software side of things is really bad.

    large companies almost ALWAYS ruin smaller ones when they buy them (out).

    I have a slim mp3 hardware box. its reasonably well designed and mostly trouble free.

    but honestly, I am not going to hope for much more now that they're no longer a small company ;(

    • large companies almost ALWAYS ruin smaller ones when they buy them (out).

      But, sometimes that leads to excellent sales. Like when Rio bought the empegcar player. It had been selling for like $2000, but when Rio cancelled it, they had a firesale and you could pick them up for like $200.

      Oddly enough, slim's new "transporter" is also $2000. Here's to Logitech cancelling it and dumping inventory for 90% off MSRP! I'll buy two if that happens.
      • rio car for $200?

        I had one but I think mine was closer to $600 (dual drive 60gig unit, I think.)

        it was a neat design but not really robust. it had some intermittant problems. and being a pull-out, it had security issues and user inconvenience issues, as well. the drives spinning up too much also ruined the experience for me (not enough ram buffering).

        I just don't trust logitech. do they even release linux drivers for their multibutton mice?

        I'm sure this is financially good for the SD people but customer
        • by Grishnakh (216268)
          I just don't trust logitech. do they even release linux drivers for their multibutton mice?

          Of course not. Luckily, Linux (actually X.org) does a decent job of supporting 5-button mice on its own thanks to the standardized USB protocol, but that's all that's supported on my MX510 here at work. The extra buttons (forward/back, etc.) aren't supported yet, unless something's changed recently.

          I'm sure this is financially good for the SD people but customers almost never win when some large co. buys a small one
      • Not going to happen. They can't even keep the Transporter in stock. Get yerself a Squeezebox instead.
    • by obi (118631)
      Absolutely. And getting any specs out of them is probably easier than getting nvidia to open source their drivers, even for basic things like input devices. Linux is completely _not_ on their minds.
    • by weasel99 (941610)
      > logitech makes CRAPPY drivers. their software side of things is really bad. On another hand, SlimServer is not the most stable/fast/modern piece of software I've ever seen.
  • My mom has a squeeze box, she wears it on her chest. When dad comes home, he never gets no rest.
  • Very interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NaCh0 (6124) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @09:46PM (#16496189)
    As a squeezebox owner, good and bad thoughts are passing through my head...

    Will the quality remain top notch in future versions?

    Will we see price drops?

    Will logitech be able to pull off a killer device that combines the squeezebox with an equally versitile video component? (mpeg,wmv,mov,avi,etc)
    • Don't plan on it. SlimDevices is in the audio market. They care about what and how you listen to your music. Troll the forums for video and you'll find very little. Video requires a dedicated screen of some sort wether built in or via a TV. The devices themselves don't have the horsepower for decoding video. The Squeezebox is to remain a seperate product for the time being. Prices drops are what many users are hoping for. At least for the Squeezebox. Probably not for the Transporter in the forseeable futur
      • by bsharitt (580506)
        I think that was the point of the parent. They currently have no desire to enter the video market, maybe logitech will change that.
    • by Ilgaz (86384)
      I am using a "iFeel" mouse from Logitech for over 5 or more years. On windows and OS X I have always used their drivers and reading posts on Slashdot and download sites makes me check if I am really using a Logitech.

      If you are thinking Logitech does bad quality products because of Slashdot and download site comments, you are wrong on your concerns about future quality.

      It started to look like a fashion to hate logitech because they are popular and still in business.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        Or maybe because their newer products and tech support are crap.

        My father, who rarely uses his computer, managed to 'kill' 2 logitech mx1000 mice. When I called tech support, they made me go through the usual stupid BS about new drivers and blah blah, even after explaining that we had 2 of them, 1 on my computer and 1 on his, and I had proven that it was his mouse, not his receiver, that was broken and that mine still worked with his receiver. So I finally get them to say they'll ship another one out.

        2 we
      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        I use a Logitech MX510 mouse at work, and a cheaper and older optical one at home. They both work great, and I use both in Linux.

        However, there's a difference between making good mice and taking over a small company and not running it into the ground. Logitech makes good-quality mice, and maybe some other things (all being hardware), but these are mass-market items that sell millions of units. Big companies are usually good at that sort of thing: making something that's good enough, and making it in huge
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      From what I have seen in the past with things like this?

      Nope not a chance. this is the death knoll for the squeezebox.

      Nothing like a big company to take a fantastic product from a small company and turn it to utter crap, or kills it... happens every single time.
  • by Vskye (9079)
    That Logitech does NOT screw this one up. I've been thinking about purchasing one the these, but it absolutely has to be linux compatable. Logitech's record in the driver department has not been too steller as far as linux goes.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Their software record hasn't been too stellar in general.
    • Slimserver is in PERL. Go download it. You can run the server software and use "Softsqueeze" as a client to get the hang of things. One thing for sure, the software player doesn't come close to the performance and cool factor of the hardware. As for the Squeezebox, it's a network device. No drivers needed.
      • True, slimserver is written in perl and the source is available at the moment, so if push came to shove it could be installed from source but I'd far rather apt-get it from a slimdevice official resource rather than have to install all the dependancies and set it up manually.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)
        Why can't someone make a device like the AudioTron? Something that will work with practically every operating system out there, with zero software install (well, maybe a bit, if you're using Windows 9x, DOS or such)?

        (The AudioTron scans your entire network looking for Windows/SMB/CIFS shares, and then indexes them. Since most operating systems either have SMB sharing natively in the OS, or provided via Samba and also thus compatible with NAS appliances that share via SMB/CIFS without leaving a PC on.)

        This i
  • crazy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bunions (970377) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @10:25PM (#16496495)
    the kings of bloated drivers (30MB to install my keyboard?!?) meet the kings of super-awesome software. WHO WILL WIN?!

    My money is on logitech. Glad I bought a squeezebox a few months ago (they are 10lbs of awesome stuffed into a 5lb sack).
    • by Ptur (866963)
      Hahahahahaha Seriously.... Watch how much memory SlimServer uses on your pc, then re-read your won post. SlimServer is the thing I hate about my SqueezeBox. Bloated perl crap. It takes 70MB *RAM* to run and still is slow and buggy. Yes, that's 70 MB!
      • by bunions (970377)
        yeah, but it actually -does- something, as opposed to the 30mb of software for my logitech keyboard that wants to manage the media keys and a few other stupid things.

        As for buggy, I dunno, it's never crashed once for me, nor has it ever done anything unexpected.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Why are you bothering to install drivers for a keyboard?
  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveJay (133437) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:28PM (#16496991)
    I love my Squeezebox. I have a box full of Logitech peripherals that I no longer use. I can only hope that they let the Slim Devices folks keep doing what they do best, but with the marketing muscle and distribution that Logitech can leverage (I hate seeing Roku players on the shelves at Fry's, but no Squeezeboxen.)
  • by tomRakewell (412572) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @11:48PM (#16497165)
    One of the best things about the Squeezebox is the open source SlimServer app that powers it. Written in Perl, it runs on any operating system. How can Logitech take that away? It's even conceivable that, if Logitech destroys the Squeezebox, somebody else can create a hardware box that will run on Slimserver.

    I think re-engineering Slimerserver would be difficult, expensive and stupid. Logitech will keep it. That's the core of the Linux Squeezebox compatibility right there.
    • SlimServer is no longer an all-Perl solution. The latest version requires MySQL, and won't run with other databases. I'd really like to see someone fix it to work with PostgreSQL. However, it's not going to be me, as I've sworn off Perl.
      • But it ships with a bundled MySQL, so you don't have to do anything special unless you want to run it on an already-existing MySQL server.
        • by metamatic (202216)
          The Debian package of SlimServer requires mysql-client-4.1 mysql-server-4.1.

          And I already have an existing SQL server in the form of PostgreSQL. I want to use that. Apart from anything else, it's a better database, from ACID to trivial things like actually having useful time/date fields.
    • I'd like to stream Paradox or LastFM to a Squeezebox. Unfortunately, the Squeezebox needs a Windows or Linux box to run the software, AFAICT. Having the Slimserver be open source Perl doesn't help much of the data source is only available as a binary.

      Why do I care? Because my 24x7 server is a Sparc. I don't want my tunes to go out just because I am fiddling with or haven't yet booted my desktop machine.

      I'm thinking of using a trailing edge notebook instead. Less elegent but it can run everything locall
    • by BillEGoat (50068)
      I own an SB, and I love it, but I'm not impressed with the quality of SlimServer itself. The basic architecture of SB/SlimServer rocks. The fact that the major functionality lives in the computer with the SB as a thin client is a great way to go. But the software implementation is slow, it has a clumsy web interface, and it has some weird functionality warts. Examples:

      - Internet radio - if I want to listen to the local NPR affiliate, I have to setup a playlist with just that radio station
    • by LazyBoy (128384)
      It's even conceivable that, if Logitech destroys the Squeezebox, somebody else can create a hardware box that will run on Slimserver.
      Someone already has. The Roku Soundbridge supports the slimserver (and other servers).
  • Now they make my Squeezebox, too. Does your Momma borrow it? Does your Daddy get any sleep at night?
  • by 10Ghz (453478) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @01:46AM (#16497929)
    When I read this piece of news, I was immediately reminded of the purchase of Empeg [wikipedia.org] my SONICblue. Empeg was a kick-ass piece of equipment, and SONICblue promptly ran it to the ground. I have a bad feeling that same thing will happen here. The world is full of cases where a big company buys a smaller company with great product, only to kill the product. Besides Empeg, Sun and Cobalt comes to my mind.
  • Congrats to Sean Adams [slashdot.org] and the rest of the gang; I've never been a customer but always liked your hardware hacks (and a Mtn. View company to boot!) Glad to see you guys get the recognition (and presumably payday) you deserve!

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