updated 09:40 am EST, Thu November 15, 2007
Slacker Portable Player
Slacker today announced the ship date for its long delayed Portable Radio Player, the first digital media player designed primarily around the concept of radio stations rather than just a library. The device uses its flash memory to cache user-made radio stations; like Pandora, Slacker's system can automatically queue music based on a user's tastes but saves protected copies of songs to the player on the fly. It will dynamically update through built-in Wi-Fi or when attached through USB but stores enough for most stations to work completely offline. Users can also bring in their unprotected AAC, MP3, or WMA tracks if they prefer at least some of their own music.
Every player supports a free, basic Slacker Internet radio service to load the player as well as a new Premium Radio feature that lets users save songs for access at any time and lets users skip tracks any time they like. It costs $7.50 per month with a one-year subscription but, like the basic service, is accessible both through the Slacker player and web browsers on both Macs and Windows PCs.
The finished Portable Radio Player still has a 4-inch LCD that displays large album artwork as well as artist bios and album reviews. Versions are available with 2GB ($199), 4GB ($249), or 8GB ($299) of flash memory that store 15, 25, and 40 individualized stations respectively. All are set to ship no later than December 13th and work with both Macs and Windows PCs, although Slacker notes that Macs are currently unsupported for transferring personal content.
As part of the announcement, Logitech today announced that its Squeezebox networked music hub will support Slacker's radio service and will have access to as many as 100 stations. Like the Portable Radio Player, the Squeezebox interface will let users pick favorites or ban others while also providing artist info for current tracks. The feature upgrade is free for both the Squeezebox and the high-end Transporter device and will only require an activation on the web when it goes live in late November.