December 13, 2008

Review: Slacker G2 Web Radio Player

My friends at FortyThree PR (Seana) hooked me up with a review unit of the new Slacker G2 Internet Radio Player recently and I've had spend some time with it over the past 48 hours. Please find my review below.

Test Unit: 25 Station Slacker, built in Wifi to update radio stations/playlist, 4GB, Basic account (not paid premium account)

Pros: Easy to use (once you've taken the steps to get an account (free) on Slacker Radio web) as well as figure out WiFi connection to your accesspoint. No need for software installed on your computer. Stations can be updated over wifi anywhere you have connection.

Cons: Premium account required for additional features like saving songs to library. Basic (free) account only gets five song skips and does not get to save songs to library just like radio is meant to be. Can't seem to find adequate instructions for newbies, is there no power on/off switch?

The Slacker Radio portable player is kind of a hybrid between your standard media player and radio. Its a radio in that you go to their website and setup your playlist stations based on artist, genre and custom preference and it will suggest songs that you may like but it has the portability of listening to these radio stations at your convenience since songs are stored in the 4GB built-in storage. Once you have your device configured to your account and over a wifi accesspoint, you can chooose to update your radio content wirelessly (which is a very cool feature).

Packaging: The packaging for the Slacker G2 Player is really good. It gives you a since of luxury as you open up the matte finished black box where a player, premium headphone (in-ear design), protective case, instructions, stickers and other information can be found. The packaging design folks did a good job generating a sense of excitement as you unwrap the player.

Physical: The Slacker G2 gives the appearance of a touchscreen mobile phone, very similiar to the looks of an HTC Touch Diamond. It is smaller than a classic 30GB iPod and fits nicely in hand with ample weight to give it a solid feel (not cheap plastic) thanks to the brushed metal-finish back.

Control: The primary control are the three buttons on the front of device: Back, Play, and Skip. For advance features, an old-school blackberry side scroll wheel w/ cancel button can be found on the right side of the device. There is also a lock button just beneath the scroll wheel. Towards the top of the device, you'll find two buttons where you can provide feedback to the song (like or dislike). On the top of the device, you can find a 3.5mm jack and volume control. There is also a USB input (for charging) and sync'ing your device.

Conclusion: My overall experience has been good with the Slacker Radio Player. I find their website (which controls your station setting and account information) a little on the busy side borderline confusing for first time users. This could be a little tough for slightly older demographic which is probably not their core targeted customers. The basic account is free with limited options (like 6 song skips per hour per station) and they will playback two radio ads per hour which is more than fair for a really solid free service. Premium account customers pay $7.50 per month and will get more options like unlimited song skips, save songs to library and song requests. I really love the function of sync'ing new songs over wifi. The premium headphone is a really nice finishing touch. The sound quality exceeds my affordable but good Sony MDR-51EX headphones with similar in-ear design with three sets of ear bud size to choose from. I wish the wifi function extends to a simple browser or email app to unlock even more potential. An RSS reader would be nice for commuters so they can sync their radio and news content in the morning to take with them on the go. I think this device has an innovative angle and with future firmware updates it can add a ton of values to customers.

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