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 and .
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.
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 Grace Digital app.— just tap the Chromecast button in compatible apps – the device is also operable from the screen and front-mounted controls or via the
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.