Walt Mossberg on the Slacker Portable (verdict: he's not not intrigued by it) - Orbitcast

Walt Mossberg on the Slacker Portable (verdict: he's not not intrigued by it)

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Slacker Radio

Yes, that's a double-negative in the headline. In other words Uncle Walt, the leader of all tech writers, isn't necessarily against the Slacker Portable, but he's also not in love with it... yet.

Walt Mossberg (who yelled the infamous words, "I don't give a fuck about your stock price!" at XM's former CEO Hugh Panero a few years back) overall seemed to find the Slacker service/player intriguing. His biggest problem - granted, it was a prototype he was playing with - was the bugs that need to be worked out of the player.

"The two prototype Slacker units I tried, however, were hobbled by bugs and glitches that the company must expunge by the release date, which was originally slated to be this month. For instance, the players sometimes failed to wake up after going to sleep, requiring a reboot. The touch strip was unreliable. One player failed several times to connect to my account. Battery life is well below Slacker’s goal of 12 hours between charges. The company says it is aware of these problems, and pledges all will be fixed."

Which explains why the Slacker Portable player has been delayed. Still Mossberg seems to like what he sees so far, but his hope for the service itself is that the ads aren't too annoying.

One interesting thing to note: he compared the Slacker service to Rhapsody and of course to Sirius and XM:

"And both the Sirius and XM satellite-radio networks offer portable players for listening to their stations, although the stations can’t be customized."

I think that's an important distinction. Slacker is meant for consumers who have no desire to program entire playlists of music - but it still has an easy way to customize the music you're listening to.

Satellite Radio on the other hand has absolutely no interactivity. There is a growing desire by consumers to increase control over their media experiences. Sirius and XM need to come up with solution for this, to create the feeling of interaction and control, because the influence of this trend in consumers' thinking is significant and real. I'm not sure how, I just know what, needs to be done to adapt for future trends.

But I digress.

Watch Mossberg's quickie video review below...

[All Things Digital]

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Filed under: Portable Audio , Wireless The short of it is that the Slacker is an intriguing concept and Read More

9 Comments

Personally, I think Walt is substantially over-rated.

But he's a Red Sox fan, and a pretty old dude who can explain things clearly

He's hugely overrated, but has a ridiculous amount of influence in the tech industry. David Pogue (NY Times) is also another bigwig who is elevated to god-like status by the industry. (Personally, I like Pogue's style better... but that's not the point)

The reality is that these guys have reach. And the more that corporations feed them with exclusive access, the more reach and influence they gain. It's cyclical. But hey, they put in a lot of effort to get to where they are.

Most of these press events that I go to consist of snobby press guys eating and drinking for free, and acting too cool for the room. All they care about is free food and whatever swag they can grab on the way out. (Not Walt or Pogue mind you, I'm talking about the C-list reporters.) Having been on both sides of the table myself, I think its disgusting how some these slobs act and abuse the others around them.

...but I digress. :)

although the stations can’t be customized."

I wonder what you call the 6 gigs of strategically organized music stored on my microSD card in my Stiletto 2?

Rich, I think you would call that strategically organized stored music.

Well, that was the huge waste of time. I know what the Slacker service is, I want to see the player in action.

Well, there is a small amount of interactivity - see XM's 20 on 20, which is a nifty idea that I will never listen to because I hate Top 40 *shrug* I could sorta see them expanding that idea of user-controlled playlist, but at the same time, the problem with that is depth. Even if I did like Top 40, I think I would shoot myself in the head if I listened to 20 on 20 for more than one countdown and kept hearing, essentially the same stuff in the same order.

Frankly, the lack of control over the playlist is what I LIKE about my XM - if I want to listen to a specific song, I'll dig out my Zune and listen to it there, but when I'm driving, I just want to set the XM on my favorite genre and let it roll in auto-pilot. Slacker would be cool, but I feel it's slightly overpriced at the moment. When they bring the 2 gig model down to $150 or so, though, that's probably when I will bite.

FlyTunes was announced at CES and appears to deliver what Slacker promises, except you don't need to buy their player, and you don't need to pay a monthly fee. It's available on 1/21. http://www.engadget.com/2008/01/08/video-flytunes-brings-internet-radio-to-iphone/

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