Slacker Radio Goes Premium, Debuts Players

Self-styled "personal radio" operator Slacker announced itself with big fanfare earlier this year, offering a Web-based streaming music service and claiming it would offer Web-based music, WiFi-enabled portable music players, and even satellite ratio; the company then brought on XM Radio co-funder Lon Levin as an advisor and said it would have gear ready later in 2007. Today, Slacker made good on some of those promises, announcing is new ad-free Slacker Premium Radio and a line of WiFi-enabled Slacker portable players.

Slacker Premium Radio is priced at $7.50 per month with an annual subscription, and offers ad-free personalized music from Slacker’s library of over 2 million tracks, unlimited song-skipping, and the ability to save favorite songs for later playback and create custom playlists. Users can also log into their personalized stations using the Slacker Web Player from any Windows or Macintosh PC; users can embed custom stations in their blogs or social networking profiles, rate favorite tunes (or ban their least favorites), and share stations with friends and family. And, of course, the Premium Radio offering is ad-free.

"Slacker Premium Radio is for those who want even more control over their radio listening experience," said Slacker CEO Dennis Mudd, in a statement. "We’re particularly excited by the save song feature in Premium Radio, which lets people build a library of their favorite music without having to work at it."

Slacker’s portable players work with either the Basic or Premium Slacker services, enabling users to listen to their personal stations either online or offline. The player sport a 4-inch 480 by 272-pixel color screen that displays artist profiles, reviews, and cover art, offer up to 10 hours of battery life, automatically refresh their content via USB or WiFi. The players are mostly Windows-only (they only support WiFi on the Mac, and can’t transfer personal content), and supports playback of existing MP3, AAC, and WMA audio you may already have sitting around. The players are available in three capacities, which Slacker is billing as 15 stations, 25 stations, and 40 stations (that translates to 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB) priced at $199,99, $249.99, and $299.99 respectively.

Slacker is offering a free option to have the player pre-loaded with customers’ favorite stations, and pre-linked to their Slacker Basic or Premium account; the players are scheduled to ship on or before December 13.

Peripheral and accessory maker Logitech has also announced support for Slacker service on its Squeezebox and Transporter network music players.

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