MP3 player
Gift Guide - Portable Audio/Video

Review: Slacker G2 personal radio player

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Today, Slacker announced the G2 personal radio player, which is 10x better than the first gen device. The 4GB model handles 25 stations while the 8GB model stores up to 40 are available for $200 and $250, respectively. The Wi-Fi has also been beefed up and battery life is up around 15 hours. The G2 is 40 percent smaller than the first gen model and you can side load your own music to the device, but it’s limited to the PC. There is still no support for Mac users. It supports MP3, WMA and AAC.

That’s all the updated info and if you’re interested then keep reading for a full-on review.

Hardware

The G2 is super, tiny and easily portable. The exact dimensions are as follows: 87x53x13.5mm and weighs only 2.5 ounces. The screen may look small (320×240), but it’s big enough to show album art, an artist picture, biography and album review. All of this can be accessed with the old BlackBerry-like scroll wheel. You can “favorite” or “block” tracks via the top two buttons. The rest of button scheme is simple with a play/pause, forward and rewind button located on the bottom half. Volume controls are found on the top of the player next to the 3.5mm headphone jack. A “back” button is located just below the scroll wheel that is mainly used when navigating the menu system.

You can charge and sideload tracks over USB. Depending on which model you choose to purchase, your stations will sync over USB or Wi-Fi. Syncing over Wi-Fi takes a long time, like, hours depending on how many stations you choose. I’m unsure about it over USB since I’m on a Mac, though. However, you can have Slacker pre-load your stations and everything else when you purchase through them. Even though it takes a while to sync you’re getting a ton of music, so I can live with that. I synced before going to bed and you don’t necessarily have to sync all that often.

The hardware is easy to use and much improved over the previous model. There’s a 30-pin connector located on the bottom that will work with upcoming power adapters, FM transmitter and speaker docks. Also included in this model is a custom EQ and volume normalization options. You can purchase through Slacker or Amazon now, but it will ship to Best Buy stores this month. The G2 includes a case with removable clip, USB cable, USB-compatible power supply, and premium-ears. Admittedly I did not try these out since I’ve been testing out Shure’s new SE 110 in-ears, but I’ll update shortly.

Service

This is the bread and butter for Slacker. There are over two million tracks available and they’re CD quality, which is a very good thing considering all you audiophiles will want to know about that. When you rate, fave or ban tracks on the player itself it syncs with your online account and vice versa.
Experts maintain the 100+ stations and the variety is quite good. I rarely found myself skipping tracks. The free service limits you to six track skips within one hour whereas the paid service costs $7.50 a month. The free service also subjects you to about one advertisement per hour, but you won’t find that with the paid subscription. Paying for the service gives the ability to save songs to your library and access them whenever you want with the paid service. This also gives the ability to go back to the previous song you were listening to. You can also request an unlimited number of songs to the most kickass custom stations as possible, but this, too, requires the paid service.

Depending on the model you choose, the number of stations you pick will vary the depth of songs you get in each station. So the less you have the more variety you get. You can sync over Wi-Fi whenever you have access and keys are also stored.

Overall, I’d recommend the G2 if you’re heavily invested in Slacker’s online service and even if you’re not, then you should get one anyway. It’s free music that’s constantly changing and, for someone like me, that’s a good thing. I get stuck listening to the same stuff over and over again.

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