Tech Savvy Daddy is the uber-music lover in our household. He’s forever tinkering with playlists in iTunes and browsing for new hip music to round out his collection that spans time and genres. He’s the reason why Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer know all the lyrics to obscure tunes like A Horse with No Name and request James Brown. So when SanDisk sent me their new slotRadio to review, I turned it over to him for the full test drive. Here’s what he had to say.
We all know the CD is dead. It’s been replaced by “nothing.” By nothing, I mean the amorphous term digital media, meaning streaming songs, MP3s, flash and hard drive based players.
While some MP3 players have been wildly popular, I would argue that we still haven’t settled on the final evolution of digital music. Putting your MP3 player in the cup holder of your car isn’t that technologically advanced. And what about keeping your music fresh?
I am absolutely against the “subscription services” where you have to pay THE MAN $9.99 a month to get access to music and if you ever cancel your subscription, all your music files become useless. On the other hand, buying songs one at a time can be time consuming and can get expensive over time. In addition, sometimes you don’t want to spend the time searching out the music you want to listen to, you just want to plug in and go.
Here it is in a nutshell: You purchase a slotRadio for $99. It’s a small MP3 player with a screen that comes with a card pre-loaded with 1,000 songs from the Billboard charts. It’s a mix of current hits, and some older songs, arranged into playlists by genre. There’s a lot to be said about this… A player loaded with one thousand songs for $99. Using back of the envelope calculations, doing this with the iTunes store would cost you the price of an iPod + about $1,000.
One big problem with many technology products is that they suffer from a serious lack of content. This isn’t the case here. The thousand songs you get with the slotRadio includes some quality material from big-name artists like U2, Coldplay, Sarah McLahalan, Rhianna, Norah Jones, and the Killers. It’s not fluff by any means… the songs are hit singles from these artists.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that there is “something for everyone” on the SlotRadio Mix Card. The playlists are called: Rock, Country, R&B/HipHop, Contemporary, Alternative, Workout, and Chillout.
Some serious effort was put into selecting the music, and I’d say they did a good job.
There’s definitely something for everybody, whether you live in a red state or blue, use a Mac or a PC, or prefer Dr. Pepper to Starbucks.
So for every song I was really excited about like the Screaming Trees (Live105 material if you’re from San Francisco) and Beastie Boys’ Sabatoge, it was balanced out by some cheese 80’s rock like Cheap Trick or Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”
The songs come loaded on a slotRadio card, a MicroSD flash card. These are a smaller version of SD cards like you would use in your camera. If you haven’t seen a MicroSD card before, it’s about the size of the fingernail on your pinky. What happens when you get bored with the music on the player? You can purchase another slotRadio card for $39.99, containing another 1,000 songs. Not a bad deal. The card that comes with the player contains a mix all music types, but the add-on cards which you can buy are targeted for musical styles like Rock, Country, R&B/HipHop, etc….
You can also purchase MicroSD cards and load your own MP3s on the player. I arranged some songs into folders on the computer and they showed up as playlists on the SlotRadio plater. The card that comes with the player has some free space on it, which is there to allow you to copy one entire album of your choosing onto the player.
There is a well-lit black and white screen which shows you the artist and title, as well as what song will play next. You can switch between playlists quickly, and if you don’t like a particular song, you can advance at the push of a button.
There are definitely some quirks about the interface. The front of the device has 2 large < – and -> buttons. These do NOT advance forward and backwards by the song. They go forward and backwards through the seven playlists. To go forward, you push a button on the right side of the device. Holding this button in also pauses.
What if you just love Chris Martin and you HAVE to listen to that Coldplay song again? You’re outta luck. You can’t go back.
One trap I kept falling into was to hit the -> button to go forward. It’s there, staring me in the face but rather than going forward, that button switches the playlist.
Sansa/SanDisk, here’s a suggestion, update the software to make the arrow buttons go forward and backwards within the songs. Take the advance button on the side of the device and reprogram it to cycle through the playlists. There are only 7 playlists, so it’s not that cumbersome to have to press the button 6 times to cycle through all of them. There are enough buttons on the hardware to do everything I want (except delete Cheap Trick), but they just aren’t used intelligently.
If you have a boatload of MP3s on your home computer and have the time and desire to organize them, you may find the slotRadio limiting. I didn’t mention it earlier, but in case you were wondering, NO, you can’t copy the 1,000 songs off the slotRadio. You can’t copy them off the device or add them to your MP3 Library.
Bummer, but at 25 cents a song, I guess I can understand why.
On a few occasions, I’ve seen vending machines at the airport selling Mp3 players and accessories. I get the part about buying accessories, but what would be the purpose of buying an empty MP3 player from a vending machine before a long flight? You wouldn’t have anything to listen to! Duh!
The slotRadio would be a perfect device to purchase at the airport before a 14 hour flight, or to give to someone without having to worry about their musical tastes. It’s lightweight and rugged enough to use jogging (or so I’ve heard, as I don’t know how), and it would be a good starter MP3 player for your kid.
It comes preloaded with high-quality content and you’re ready to rock right out of the box. It’s got an FM radio too.
- $99 for player pre-loaded with 1,000 songs
- Compact size MP3 player with a good screen
- Comes with silicon case and built-in clip
- Long battery life
- Great songs
- Can’t go back/restart a song
- You won’t like ALL the songs
- I crashed it twice, but it was fine after a reboot
- I upgraded the firmware and it seems better
Sansa slotRadio was provided by SanDisk for review purposes. No payment was received in exchange for this review.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama