We wrote about Slacker's new service and hardware this morning, and so did Wired, but I'm going to take an alternative interpretation of the service that is less glowing...here's what I see besides the undeniably sexy piece of hardware above. I bet Jason would want to stick that in his pants. Anyhow:
a) There's net radio. Quality is good, according to our ears, and the song lists are setup by professional DJs. XM and other do this. Somehow, because of technical/legal jibberish, the service circumvents paying royalties. Nice, if they pass those saved bucks along.
b) You can download this stuff, and your MP3s and Windows Media music/vids by WiFi to your Slacker device, a piece of hardware with a 4-inch screen that will be available for what I am assuming is $300. (With lower priced $150 sub-models available.)
c) You can Download this content to the player for free...but there are ads. Hmm. I don't necessarily hate DRM so much, personally, if it is done fairly. But I hate ads.
You can remove them for a nominal fee...this is where the money comes in. Thankfully, the $7.50 a month won't sting too much.
d) For $7.50 a month, you can get premium access, which allows you to skip more than 6 songs an hour, and drops the ads. Wait. You can't skip more than 6 streamed songs an hour unless you pay? Stream what? Oh, satellite!
e) Soon, satellite radio service, with car and home docks. Interestingly, it uses Ku-band satellites that are generally used for GPS, not dedicated ones like Sirius and Xm have to launch. This is because they have a super-sensitive antenna that makes use of these weaker satellites possible. They're leasing their sat bandwidth. (Pass on those bucks you're saving!)
f) So you can load new content onto it via Sat, and play it back later, or now. And you can skip songs, thanks to a long stream buffer. OK, technical differences aside, the recent generation satellite portables can timeshift, too. Without the restriction on 6 song skips.
So, I don't get how this is revolutionary, except for the use of non-specialized satellites...and ads. I'm glad its cheaper. And, by the way, I welcome alternative business models and sexy hardware. But this is maybe a bit overhyped right now. What am I missing? When I use it, will I care? Will it be better than Sirius? No joke, I one time went 6 hours in a car, scanning Sirius and found nothing worth listening to. Maybe, it won't matter. In the end, it might just be worth it to hold that skinny, black, beautiful hardware. More to come.