The Sansa SlotRadio, SanDisk's experiment in preloaded portable audio players, is now officially available through its dedicated online storefront. As we reported during the product's announcement in January, the portable, clip-on music player sells for $99, and includes an FM radio, a 1.5-inch screen, and a basic digital audio player that pulls content from removable microSD memory cards. The included memory card is loaded with 1,000 songs that have been cherry-picked from top Billboard recording artists and grouped into selectable genres such as R&B/hip-hop, rock, contemporary, country, alternative, workout, and chillout.
Unlike previous portable audio efforts from SanDisk, the SlotRadio player isn't aimed at the iPod crowd. The allure of SlotRadio is it can play popular music right out of the box, with no computer required (just like a radio). In fact, a computer-shunning power outlet adapter is included as an accessory.
The SlotRadio is SanDisk's bet on a seemingly untapped market of people who want the convenience and portability of digital audio, without the fuss of downloading and transferring music using a computer. As with any music service, SanDisk faces a separate hurdle when it comes to selecting the 1,000 songs that are included with the player. To the company's credit, SanDisk has been working closely with Billboard to pull in hit songs from artists such as Akon, Brad Paisley, Coldplay, Fall Out Boy, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Soundgarden, The Killers, T-Pain, Kanye West, No Doubt, Kenny Chesney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and U2. SanDisk is also selling additional 1,000-song Billboard music compilations based around different genres and decades, each priced at $39.99.
Of course, getting 1,000 songs for $40 (or $99, in the case of the SlotRadio player) doesn't come without some limitations. The songs included on SlotRadio microSD cards cannot be transferred to a computer, and each song is wrapped with DRM-protection that's only compatible with the SlotRadio player or the SanDisk Sansa Fuze line of MP3 players. Still, with the price coming out to 4 cents per song, it's a decent value proposition for people who just want to flip a switch and hear some commercial-free hits. Who knows? Maybe this could be just the thing to drag mom and dad into the 21st century.