I just got a new set of speakers for the living room. While they're not high end audio for a family room where ease of use is pretty important the Logitech Z-5500 seem to fit right in.
Of course out of the box all the cables are the wrong length and we're going to have to move some stuff around but it was really easy to get it set up and wired into the main audio source via digital co-ax and the Media Center PC via the (supplied) 3x3.5mm adapters. Unfortunately (and if I'd have read the small print) there's no optical links (or co-ax) where supplied so I've got to pick one up tomorrow to finish getting the TV and XBox360 all plugged in.
I love the wireless remote. It's a big step up on what we had in the living room for the first few months.
The Z-5500s are replacing a Z4 2.1 setup (also Logitech) which have now been banished down to the rumpus room where Rhiannon has her PC, the washing machine and my elliptical all live. The main reason for them going down there is to let me not have to reply on the iPod when I'm working out, and let Rhiannon stream music from upstairs when she's doing her homework.
For cheaper, low-end speakers the sound from the Z4s have impressed me over the last few months. The subwoofer makes that little bit of difference over the usual run of the mill "PC" speakers and it's robust enough to have taken a few knocks so I'm hoping they'll do well in the rougher environment downstairs.
So for both the living room and rumpus downstairs music is a pretty important part of the equation. With three of us living here with fairly varied musical tastes (if you look at my Last.FM listing it's very different to Storms!).
We could have solved the problem with CD players and physical disks but it all seemed too messy and low-tech, and with the Windows Home Server sitting upstairs a fairly obvious solution was to install SqueezeCenter and get a couple of SqueezeBoxes.
The SqueezeCenter (frankly I prefer it's previous name of SlimServer, but since Logitech has purchased SlimDevices they've gone through a bit of a re-branding) runs quietly upstairs merrily cataloguing and of our CDs that we rip to the network and allows us to play them back on either Squeezebox (independently if upstairs and downstairs are catering to different people) or synchronized so you can wander around the house and not miss a beat.
You can control the Squeezeboxes either from their own remotes, or a Logitech Harmony remote, via a web browser (the SqueezeCenter has a Web interface to control the players) or various 3rd party utilities. We use all four methods depending on who is doing what where!
Annoyingly even though Logitech have purchased SlimDevices they have not yet released any integrated products. I would love to see the Squeezebox able to control the speakers (on/off, select the correct input source etc) - especially with the top-of-the-line Z-5500s, but both they and the Z4s have control inputs so I hope we'll see something on the market that uses the SqueezeBox IrBlaster connection to directly control the speakers. As it is, when I'm done on the Elliptical I have to turn a couple of things off, instead of just one.
The other annoyance with the Z-5500s is that they're not that smart. When there's no input for (say) a couple of minutes I'd want them to go into standby, and wake up when there is input. They seem to auto-select based on a hierarchy (optical, coax digital then analogue) which is cool but it would be neat for me to be able to pre-define that (say) the coax input should always be Dolby Digital music and the XBo360x/TV optical input should always optimize for TV/Movie. I guess that's another price point though.
Oh, and while I love the Squeezebox because when it's off the screen dims (or goes completely blank - that's user configurable) both the speakers display a garish blue light when they are on, and the Z-5500s have a red glow when they are in standby mode.