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Slacker: portable web radio

Although I've used Pandora for a couple years, I was introduced to Slacker a couple weeks ago when I saw an ad for the Slacker G2, a device that lets you carry web radio with you. The $200 G2 is out of my price range, but it looks pretty cool. It syncs your web radio stations from your Slacker account to the device, caches the free music for offline playback, and lets you play without an Internet connection. To refresh your music, you can use the built-in WiFi or sync via USB.

Free music is tempting, but I can't justify paying $200 for the G2. The device does let you store your own MP3s on it, but what if Slacker went out of business? The device would be pretty much worthless. Slacker is more than the G2, however, and I have started using the free web radio. I've been very impressed by it so far. I created a station with my 15 favorite artists, and Slacker had music from all of them. Like Pandora, you can rate your songs (Slacker's terms are Favorite and Ban) to tweak your stations.

Although I like Pandora for introducing me to new music similar to what I already like, sometimes I really just want to listen to music I already like. I don't know of a way to turn off music discovery on Pandora, but Slacker has this option. Edit your station, then choose one of the Artist Discovery settings: Off, Some, More, or Max. You can also tell your station to play music based on song popularity, your favorites, and song age. With a Premium Radio subscription, you can even mark songs for on-demand playback.

Slacker's audio quality is excellent, and the visual display is appealing. Along with the currently playing song, you can see album art and info and the artist's bio.


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