updated 12:55 pm EDT, Wed March 14, 2007
Slacker satellite radio
Though the merger of XM and Sirius may have prompted fears of a monopoly in satellite radio, such worries were apparently unfounded, as a new company called Slacker is promising to fill the void. It will actually offer a threefold service: at the core is the already-running web radio, which is free with video advertising, or $7.50 per month without ads. While it concentrates on modern pop music, users can find dance and electronic stations, and hits as old as the 1940s. Crucially, listeners can choose to vote on songs as they play, which may affect later playlists.
Slacker has two hardware components planned, which are designed to interact with one another. The first is portable audio player expected this summer, which will feature capacities as high as 120GB, although the largest models are unlikely to arrive at the same time as the debut 2GB version. Other features should certainly be competitive however, as it will have a four-inch screen with a touch strip, and unlike even the Microsoft Zune player, will support podcasted WMA files in addition to conventional music and video formats. Users will be able to buy tracks for a dollar apiece and transfer them via either WiFi or USB. Beginning player prices will sit between $150 and $350.
The real intention though is to connect to Slacker radio from anywhere in the world, whether by a WiFi Internet connection or a satellite car kit, coming later this year. Owners will have to dock the player with the kit, which will then use Ku-Band (satellite TV) signals to stream the audio. Up to 10,000 tracks per day will be deliverable through this method, which should still accept the voting commands of the website. More details are expected in the future. [via Orbitcast]