By Evan Ackerman
The one thing I miss about radio is being exposed to new music. I like all the songs on my iPod, but now that I have an established music collection, I rarely add to it. The Slacker WiFi portable radio acts like a cross between your iPod and the radio (sort of like, I don’t know, XM?), letting you access radio stations (or create personalized ones) over the internet, in addition to playing music that you already own. The neat thing is that the Slacker will buffer your radio stations on its HD, so you don’t have to be connected to the internet all the time in order to be listening to new music.
As you might expect, there is a monthly subscription cost to take full advantage of the radio service. The basic radio is free, but includes a ‘limited number’ of ads, and you can only skip 6 songs per hour. The price for premium radio is $7.50 a month, and for that, there are no ads, you can skip all the songs you want, and if you like something, you can save it from the radio onto your player. The player itself features 10 hour battery life, a 4″ screen, 802.11 b/g WiFi, and weighs 5 oz. A 2gb model (with 500mb for personal music, 1.5gb for radio music) will cost you $200, or you can get a 4gb (1.5gb personal music) for $250 and an 8gb (4gb personal music) for $300. Not too bad if you ask me, although I’ve never been a big fan of subscription based music.