Grace Digital Mondo+ review – CNET

September 27, 2012: the day the internet music died. If you were a fan of Logitech’s Squeezebox, that is.

On that fateful day Logitech’s popular line of wireless speakers lost its war with Sonos and was officially closed down. While a dedicated group of fans still maintain support half a decade later, Logitech’s exit ushered in other Wi-Fi music-based standards such as DTS Play-Fi and Bose SoundTouch.

Now a California company called Grace Digital One is trying to resurrect some of the Squeezebox magic. The Grace Digital Mondo+ is undeniably modeled on the original Logitech Squeezebox Radio, but it’s both cheaper and offers a better feature set. How’s that for progress?

Like the Squeezebox Radio, the Mondo+ includes Internet Radio and DLNA playback, but adds both Bluetooth and (most importantly) Chromecast ($35.00 at Dell Home). While most people are familiar with Bluetooth, Chromecast built-in offers the ability to stream music from your phone or dozens of streaming services around your house using Wi-Fi. After DTS Play-Fi, Chromecast is the multiroom music standard with the most number of manufacturers on board — and in our opinion, it offers the strongest competition to incumbent Sonos. 

Grace Digital Mondo+

The old Squeezebox/UE Smart Radio (left) next to the Mondo+.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Mondo’s heritage is evident when viewed side by side with the Squeezebox. The Grace Digital is larger but the basics are the same: an LCD screen (3.5 inches in this case) surrounded by shortcut buttons and underpinned by a rubber scroll wheel. I still find it puzzling, but not surprising from a cost point of view, that more audio companies don’t include LCD screens on their products — they make it much easier to read off song information without digging for your phone. The surrounding housing is made of a glossy plastic as the Logitech was, but the Mondo+ doesn’t feel as sturdy as the Squeezebox.

While the easiest way to control the speaker is using Chromecast built-in — just tap the Chromecast button in compatible apps – the device is also operable from the screen and front-mounted controls or via the Grace Digital app.

If you want to take the show on the road, Grace Digital offers the option of a battery pack for an extra $40, which is actually quite reasonable considering competitors charge between $80 and $100 for their batteries.

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