Knowing my love for Pandora, Dave sent me a link to Slacker a couple weeks back with a little nudge suggesting I try it out. The service has been getting ridiculously positive press reviews, and apparently the company will be launching its own hardware devices in the near future.
So how does Slacker stack up? The Web application is fabulous. It is extremely easy to set up customized radio stations based on any range of musical artists. Any artist in your list also brings up recommendations for other artists in the same genre that you can choose to add to your station. Then there’s a nifty little function called fine tuning. Fine tuning lets you decide the levels of music discovery you want to include in your channel, as well as how popular the songs should be, how often your personal favorites should be included, and what musical eras can be referenced. It sounds complicated, but in reality the fine tuning function is simple, fast and very powerful.
I’ve had some issues with Slacker crashing on me, but not enough to deter me from using the beta application. My bigger issue is that right now, I’m addicted to the Squeezebox and being able to access customized radio without my PC. We’ll have to see what happens when the Slacker hardware comes out later in the year. Whether I think it’s worth converting to Slacker will probably depend on two things:
- How well the player interface works
- How irritating the ads are when they’re introduced into the free version of the Slacker service. Right now I pay for Pandora access on my Squeezebox, but it’s a whopping $3 per month, or $36 for the year. Slacker’s premium service will be $7.50 per month, which starts to feel like real money to me.
Slacker is awesome and even revolutionary, but for now I’ll probably still use Pandora and the Squeezebox for most of my listening. Especially since I’ve added some NPR podcasts to my Squeezebox. Mmm… NPR…