It’s probably safe to say we’ve all been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the much anticipated and hyped Slacker Device (aka Slacker Portable). Started by the founding fathers of MP3 players (CEOs of the original MP3 player companies) The Slacker Device takes an old approach – we’re talking Tivo like music (aka Pandora, iLike) – to the portable world. Although Apple has long dominated the MP3 market, The Slacker Device does pose a threat to Apple’s 70%+ market share, but not a significant one – at least not one that will garner double digital numbers anytime soon given both technology adoption life cycle and infurstructure issues (powerful wireless signals aren’t ubiquitous enough yet).
So what’s the verdict? Well, Wired got an exclusive (I’m jealous) with The Slacker Device, but only provided a top level review – very Wiredesqe. Wired agrees that it’s an “antidote to music collection boredom”. You can modify your music collection with a ‘like/dislike’ or ‘ban’ feature. This get’s you to truly customized music. Thank God, because if they didn’t nail this, the The Slacker Device would be useless. This is supported by clean sound, detailed band and bio info with art work. They were a little frustrated with the free service option which only allows 6 song skips per hour, which is in addition to ads. But hey, its FREE. On the other hand, the premium service ($10 a month) allows endless skipping and no ads.
Apparently there is some satellite that will allow song refreshing without the need for WiFi, but that’s neither here nor there right now. The device will arrive with your top 10 selected radio stations. It comes in 3 sizes: 2GB, 4GB and 8GB. You can also add your own MP3s, but after adding Slacker Radio your left with 500MB, 1.5GB and 4GB respectively. Slacker describes the portable player sizes in stations: 10, 25 and 40. Surprisingly, it’s not touchscreen and includes a ‘touchstrip’ which is apparently quirky, and some hard keys located on the top and either side of the device – there is a jog dial in there some where. Battery life is a measly 10 hours, but I’m not sure if that’s without or without WiFi use. We all know what WiFi does to the iPhone battery (insert toilet flushing noise here). Based on the pics, the included headphones look no better then the headphones that come with the free Napster Mp3 players – that means they probably suck. If you’re wondering how the device works, then I suggest heading over to the Slacker website for complete details. In short, The Slacker Device caches your radio stations on your device. Whenever you’re in range of accessible WiFi, or plug into a computer via USB it’ll update your stations based on your musical preference. The Slacker Device, or Slacker Portable sounds promising. Slacker Radio is available to anyone right now. I’d suggest giving that a shot, building up your stations and then if you find yourself enjoying that library more then the one you own, drop the $200 – $300.
Slacker Portable info and pricing here.
Update: Laptopmag just dropped me an email and they’ve got a full blown review. How’d they rate it? 3.5 out of 5 stars. They love The Slacker Device, but feel a Gen 2 or a licensed version might be more robust. Check out Laptopmag’s Slacker Device review here.