The digital music world has two buzz words it seems: the iPod and DRM. One is loved and the other almost universally hated, so the release of the slotRadio will have issues with both.
The main thing we had trouble with before we even picked up the device was the notion of someone else picking music for us. Admittedly $40 for 1,000 songs (£25 in real money) was a good deal, working out at around 3p per track, but you're still at the mercy of whoever 'handcrafted' the playlists.
When TechRadar asked SanDisk about this idea, the response was that the iPod Shuffle had similar questions asked about that when it was launched, and it proved a success.
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While hardly a definitive answer, it is a good point. So onto the device itself... a dinky little unit with left and right buttons either side of the monochrome screen, a track skip button on the side and volume buttons on the other. At the top is a slider switch to move between music, FM and powering the device down (we were wondering where the radio came in.)
There's a also a slot for microSD cards to be used, allowing you to switch the slotMusic whenever you fancy, by purchasing another card for $40. In fact, the overall cost of the device is only around £60 with a free bundled 1,000 songs, so not bad money really.
Except the player isn't really up to much. The diminutive size does pump out some decent sound, but the teeny monochrome screen was mostly used as an equaliser with the song titles scrolled in teeny font at the bottom. Surely the other way around would have been a better idea?
The ability to change between genres was neat using the two side buttons, but it seems there's not a lot of control over the tracks beyond the basic play / pause and skip functions. For the money we suppose its acceptable, but it hardly sets the world alight.
The Apple iPod Shuffle obviously has less functionality than the slotRadio and costs more... but people will always buy into the name, no matter what's released, which makes it hard for the likes of SanDisk to compete.
If you buy into the whole slotRadio concept, i.e. hate the idea of downloading music and would rather buy lots of memory cards, then this is for you. If not, then just keep doing what you're doing and do it merrily. Merrily, we say.