Well I made the leap last week and picked up a Slim Devices Transporter. Here's few comments on the good and the bad that come with this device and the new way of listening to music.
First off I have a lot of music, mostly in FLAC or APE, stored on an external 320GB hard drive. In fact, so much music that I just bought an additional 500GB external hard drive. For most of the music on this hard drive I do not have the original CD either because I sold it or because the music obtained via downloading. Prior to getting the Transporter I listened to this music only via my computer audio system or in the case of some of the downloaded music I burned a CD from the files so that I could listen to the music on my main stereo.
When faced with the prospect of buying the additional external hard drive or trying to make room on my almost full hard drive by burning more CDs I decided to look into getting some type of wireless streaming device since I already have a wireless router. After doing some research on the various streaming devices available I picked the Transporter because:
1) Slim Devices offers a wealth of information on their web site and one can even download the software (Slimserver) used to run the Transporter (and Squeezebox).
2) The Transporter is a stand alone "audiophile" quality device with a very good internal DAC and balanced analog outputs. I do not own a separate DAC and my preamp has a pair of balanced inputs which were not being used.
3) The Transporter (and Squeezebox) use one's existing network to stream the data unlike the Sonos which uses it's own network.
4) The Transporter (and Squeezebox) do not have built-in hard drives and CD drives as is the case for the Olive server and I find that with most music servers with built in hard drives, the cost of those hard drives is way over priced. Besides I already have a computer and external hard drive to rip and store my music on.
5) Doing a simple search on eBay turned an authorized Slim Devices dealer who was willing to sell a brand new Transporter at a 17% discount (and with free shipping and no tax!!) And speaking of discounts, Slim Devices is having a sale (through May 28th on the white Squeezebox for $249 with free shipping and if you use the promotion code LIVE365 you get an addition $20 off - $229 for a brand new Squeezebox, very sweet!)
Okay, so those were my reasons, now what is good about the Transporter and what is bad, well actually it's more like not so good rather than bad.
1) The sound - I've compared the sound of the Transporter playing back a FLAC file to the sound of the original CD played back on my McCormack UDP-1 disc player and there is almost no difference that I can hear.
2) Ease of set up - since, as i stated earlier, Slim Devices lets anyone download the Slimserver software, after I had ordered the Transporter I tired using the Slimserver software just to get the hang of it and I find it very easy to use. Once I had the Transporter I hooked it up, followed the instructions and had the device playing back my music in no time at all.
3) Lots of bonus features, such as the Slim Network which lets you connect to almost any internet streaming music service. One drawback is that flash based music services, like Wolfgang's Vault, are not supported. Some of the services included and supported are Live365, RadioIO, RadioTime, Shoutcast, Rhapsody, Pandora, Live Music Archive and Natural Sounds plus you can easily add url's of your own.
4) The ease of use - one can find also any piece of music with just a few click of the remote. Simple and fast.
5) The Slimserver software is open source so there are many plugins, additional features and enhancements available for download on the Slim Devices web site. These plugins range from music library tweaks to ways to change the display on the Transporter.
Okay that's those are the good things, now for the not so good things.
1) In order for you to experience the wonderful ease of use and find your music by just pushing a few buttons on the remote your music must be properly tagged!! Luckily the FLAC file format supports meta-data tags and there are several good file tagging programs available for download. Until you have properly tagged all your music finding a given piece can be rather tiresome. And like MP3 files the tags can be misleading to say the least. Moving forward now that I've cleaned up and tagged my existing collection should not be a problem since I just have to make such that any new music is properly tagged.
2) Speaking of new music if you don't use iTunes as the front end for your music collection then every time you add new music to your hard drive you have to manually tell Slimserver to rescan your library (hard drive) to find new music. There may be a plug in available that makes library rescans automatic but I haven't found it as yet.
3) No cover art but this isn't so bad since the older I get the harder it becomes to read the print in those tiny booklets that come with CDs.
Okay, so quite a bit of good points and some minor not so good points. However with all things considered I'd say that the Transporter is a very worthwhile investment and would make a nice addition to any high end audio system.