SanDisk Packs the Hits into slotRadio

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At this week’s CES show, SanDisk has taken the wraps off its new slotRadio cards and music player, which are designed to let busy and harried music lovers tap into current hits without having to go to all the trouble of, say, downloading, transferring, and organizing them the way they want. Or, even, having to go to the trouble of choosing songs they might like: if it’s good enough for Billboard, it’s good enough for slotRadio!

slotRadio is a follow-up on SanDisk’s slotMusic idea, which offers SD cards pre-loaded with DRM-free music content and (sometimes) extras, which users can purchase in Radio Shack stores and other outlets just like other forms of physical media (e.g. CDs). Instead of offering music from one artist, slotRadio cards pack 1,000 songs from the Billboard charts, pre-sorted into pre-defined categories and playlists, with an eye towards helping people too busy to keep up with the pop music scene stay groovin’ with current tunes. Users can’t transfer music off the slotRadio cards, users can move through playlists and skip over songs they might not like (but paid for anyway!). slotRadio cards will run $39.99 each, and SanDisk plans to produce slotRadio cards tied to specific music genres and themes.

“slotRadio’s unprecedented simplicity will have even the most time-pressed music fans enjoying a huge range of music in no time,” said SanDisk senior VP and general manager Daniel Schreiber, in a statement. “1,000 handpicked songs in your pocket with zero downloads makes enjoying digital music easier than ever. Never before has music been this accessible.”

To accompany the slotRadio cards, SanDisk is also rolling out a slotRadio player, a $99.99 device that comes with a 1,000 song slotRadio card and features a 1.5-inch OLED screen that displays artist and song information, along with an FM tuner. The slotRadio player should go on sale in “early 2009” at Radio Shack stores.

slotRadio cards will be compatible with the slotRadio player (imagine that!) as well and SanDisk’s Sansa Fuze line of music players.

The idea behind the slotRadio cards is to enable music fans to keep up with current hits without having the hassle of locating, purchasing, downloading, and syncing the material so they can listen to it on a personal music player: with slotRadio, users just buy a card, pop it in, and they’re good to go. However, in removing “obstacles” to using a digital media player, slotRadio is also taking all choice out of the equation: sure, users are buying 1,000 songs for $39.99, but how many of those songs do they actually want? And without the ability to transfer the songs to a computer or another player, if users want to listen to songs they purchased on their computer or their home stereo…they’ll need to buy—or otherwise acquire—another copy.

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