- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
We wish we could rate everything in life with “heart” or “no” buttons.
A surrogate for your too-hip nephew, the Slacker G2 creates custom “radio stations” from your musical preferences. Tell it you like the Stones, the Kinks, and the Who, and it’ll mix in complementary tracks from those artists, the Beatles, and others. However, it’s as aptly named as it is functional; the Slacker omits Mac features and holds back too much in an attempt to get users to bite at a subscription fee.
The generic-looking G2 feels light, if sometimes cheap. Its clear, 2.4-inch screen shows off album art, and a side-mounted wheel navigates through options, Blackberry-style. Audio quality is good, delivering AAC files from Slacker’s library of more than 2 million tracks. From this database, the G2 offsets its shrug-worthy hardware—the digital DJ living inside always has a groove.
We regularly stumbled into new favorite bands by starting from current favorites. With the Web interface, we programmed a few stations with a single musician, customized others with several groups, and transferred premade, genre-based stations. The G2 never connects to your Mac, instead downloading directly through Wi-Fi. By rating songs, the Slacker service tuned itself to our tastes. And whenever we reconnected to the network, it moved a fresh batch of songs over.
While our favorites came up a little too often by default, those ratings drove us through new discoveries. We like the National, but hadn’t previously heard Pedro the Lion or P:ano, which paired well. If you can navigate through the clunky webpage, you can make additional adjustments to your stations.
The Slacker’s interface is its biggest weakness. The layout never feels right—often unintuitive—and the player often pauses slightly before reacting to button-presses. The computer interface is worse, lacking a dedicated Mac application to transfer your own music over to the G2. Mac users can only program the portable through the webpage—PC owners can set up the device, transfer their own songs, and sync it through a utility. Slacker is planning a Mac application but couldn’t provide us with a release date.
Too many features are held back unless you add a monthly fee—prices range between $7.50 and $10 depending on the duration. With the free service, you can only skip six songs each hour in a single station, can’t save a favorite song to play whenever you want, and have to listen to brief, occasional ads. We don’t begrudge the idea of a subscription, but we wish the G2 at least came bundled with a free three- or six-month subscription, given the price of the device.While its interface often disappoints, the Slacker G2 rocks as a music guide. Your iPod is still the headliner, but the Slacker G2, as an opening act, shows potential.