Recently, I posted a COMPARISON between satellite radio like XM Radio and Sirius Radio to www.theradio.com. I just came across the latest offering from Slacker. Slacker is an online radio offering that provides unlimited song selections and stations via the Internet similar to www.radio.com. There are some key differences between the two and one is being that Slacker produces a stand alone radio player.
This latest version called the Slacker G2 which comes with 4 Gigs of memory and uses Wi-Fi to access the radio stations is available for $199.99 USD. This is not just a music player with 4 gigs of memory and Wi-Fi access to Internet radio. The product is unique in that you do not require Wi-Fi Internet access to listen to the radio stations. The unit reserves 3 Gigs of the memory for the radio station content therefore allowing you to listen to the stations disconnected from the Internet. A connection to Slacker online within 30 days will allow you to refresh the radio stations content. This is an innovative way to allow connected and disconnected radio play. The main service is free just like The Radio except you have commercials and DJ chatter. To remove the commercials and the DJ chatter, you need to subscribe to the premium service. The cost is only $3.99/month charged at an annual rate of $47.88.
Does Slacker offer something as good as the The Radio?
Currently the answer is no since you are dealing with commercials and DJ chatter on the free service. The advantage Slacker offers which The Radio currently does not is mobile portability. I have not been able to access The Radio on any of my Windows Mobile devices. I can access the website and show the FLASH player support details but the player itself is non functioning. Even if I was to have full access to the The Radio on my Windows Mobile devices, I can only enjoy it when I am connected to the Internet.
There is very little information on www.slacker.com on how the actual radio station content works disconnected. I am guessing in that the reserved 3 Gigs of memory is used to store the content. Does this mean when the unit is REFRESHED as Slacker calls their updating process, the whole 30 days worth of radio content is downloaded? If this is the case, how long does this actual REFRESH process take? 3 Gigs is a large amount of memory and though a fast PC and a fast Internet connection can handle this in a few minutes, I am not sure a portable music player like the Slacker G2 has the fast enough processor to handle the large data transfer at warp speed.
It will be interesting to see this type of product take off and become very popular. For now, I see The Radio as still being the hands down winner. I can still listen to The Radio for free via any free hotspot using my laptop PC. No commercials or DJ chatter and I can play a song or any song already played over again and again by going to the HISTORY tab and selecting the song to play over.