SanDisk introduces the new slotRadio – an mp3 player and radio that plays media cards preloaded with music to make your music experience near effortless.
First Impressions. Despite seeing pictures of the slotRadio prior to unpacking the lightweight 1.3 oz player, I was taken back by how small the unit was. The media player measures two inches across and is just over a half inch deep. The die-cast aluminum body gives it a solid and durable feel.
The 1.5″ landscape screen provides some entertaining animations for each music category you can scroll through, along with scrolling text info for the current song, next song, as well as the remaining battery life.
The front surface feels as if it has a protective sticker on it that I really want to peel off, but can’t. This coating gives it more of a matte finish and I find myself constantly wiping the screen to hide any fingerprints. The belt clip on the back of the player is reminiscent of the iPod Shuffle’s belt clip.
Six Buttons. There are only six buttons found on the player in keeping with their simple design. A slider on the top puts the device in play mode, FM mode, or off. The two arrows you find on the front change the music category (see below). Along the left side of the player you’ll find the up and down volume buttons and along the right side is the next song (or pause when held) button.
One Button Short. I found one important button was missing – the previous song button. You can skip to the next song, but there is no way to go back to a previous song. This was my biggest frustration with the device. Removing this feature along with the inability to browse your playlists makes the player more like listening to the radio than a media player.
One thing the iPods don’t have. There’s no denying that the most popular media player is the Apple iPod line. The slotRadio provides one standard feature that is missing on the iPod – an FM tuner.
Swap out the headphones. As I put the earphones on, I found the music to have plenty of low end, but missing the bright sound I get from my iPod touch. Once I found a song on the slotRadio that I also had on my Ipod touch, I jumped back and forth between each pair of headphones to confirm the difference in sound I discovered. Next, I swapped the headphones between the two media players and I found that the onus fell on the headphones and not the media player. I suspect, however, that I’ve simply become accustomed to the sound my iPod headphones provide and it’s not necessarily that the slotRadio headphones are poor quality – they are simply more bass heavy and have less treble than I’m used to.
No need for downloads. There are two ways you can obtain music for the slotRadio. The slotRadio bundle comes with the player and a slotRadio mix card, which is everything you need to get started. You can purchase additional media cards, with a variety of musical styles, that come with 1,000 preloaded songs. Secondly, you can add your own music (about one album’s worth) to a slotRadio card or you can put music on your own microSDTM or microSDHCTM card. The small USB port and included usb cable provide you with the ability to connect to your PC or Mac and transfer music.
Current hits? I was interested in how up-to-date the music selection was. While I wouldn’t expect it to have music that has come out in the last few months, it did provide a good mix between classics and newer selections.
Categories. The slotRadio mix card contains the following seven categories: Rock, Country, R&B/Hip Hop, Contemporary, Alternative, Workout, and Chillout. The first five are self explanatory. Workout pretty much contains a mix of upbeat songs from the first five categories, and Chillout contains more mellow songs for the same.
Time to Face the Music. Is the slotRadio for me? Well that depends on a few things. How picky are you about your music, and how tech savy are you?
If you are someone who is fine just choosing a music style and letting the music play then the slotRadio is for you. Also, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on buying music, or you haven’t the first clue about how to get music from your Mac or PC onto a media player, then the slotRadio makes it pretty much effortless. And 1,000 songs on a pre-loaded $40 card is nothing to shake a stick at.
If you tend to be a little pickier about your music and especially would like the ability to go right to a specific song, browse playlists, or replay a favorite song, you’ll likely find the lack of controls (especially no previous song button) a little annoying. The device is designed very simple, but at the sacrifice of leaving out some key navigation features.
Personally, I much prefer my iPod touch to the slotRadio – but in its defense, the slotRadio is a much cheaper solution. I can see this as being the perfect media player for my Dad who wants an easy way to listen to some country music or to tune into the Bills game while he mows his 2 acre yard.
Your Daddy Money: Wasted or Worth it?
For Just play me some Music Dads: WORTH IT! 4.5/5 stars
For Tech Savy or Picky Music Dads: WASTED! 2/5 stars
Steve Otto is a computer programmer for Paychex, and recently completed 14 years of service in the Army Reserves, before deciding to devote more time to his family. He has been married to his beautiful bride, Amy, for almost 10 years and they have two children, Hannah (7) and Jacob (3). Steve finds time to lead a Young Adult Ministry at his church, runs a very successful Wedding Entertainment company, and also created and runs the blog Ubervice.net.