Slacker Portable: Better late than never?


Well it’s here (almost). Although promised by the end of the summer, the Slacker Portable is now available for pre-order and should ship in mid-December.

You shouldn’t think of it as an MP3 player, per se, although you can load MP3 and WMA files onto the device. Think of it more as a personal portable radio. You listen to songs and rate them. The ones you hate never show up again and the ones you love show up more often. Music is transferred to the player over a Wi-Fi connection and artist/song biographical information is displayed on the 4-inch color screen (it’s not a touchscreen, though).

I had high, high hopes for this device. I suppose part of me is still hanging on to the possibility that it might still be all it’s cracked up to be. My main concern is the price, however.

The cheapest player is $200 and that’s for 2GB of storage. The 4GB and 8GB versions are $250 and $300, respectively. Plus to be able to skip more than six songs per hour, keep advertisements off of the device, and save songs to be played whenever you want (only on Slacker’s software or portable player, though), you’ll have to pony up another $7.50 per month for the premium service. Battery life is rated at around 10 hours and the thing only plays music.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of being lazy and telling the player, "Hey, I like AC/DC. Gimme a bunch of stuff that sounds like that," and then sifting through the good and the bad and finding new artists. I use the Slacker desktop software a lot and it works really well. It just seems weird to spend at least $200 plus $90 per year to be able to walk around with a hardware device that does the same thing.

I’m just really hung up on the price for some reason. I guess I wish the cost of the player was either subsidized or came with a year of free service, that’s all.

Slacker Portable Player (Finally) on the Way [PC Magazine]