SlotRadio: Another Cool New Audio Toy From CES



SanDisk has done exactly what a good business should do. They have identified a need and then stepped up to fill it.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be looking at a lot of new radio toys being debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. SanDisk’s SlotRadio is one that embodied a concept I’ve been waiting on. You see, the unit combines an FM receiver with the ability to play “music cards,” flash memory cards preloaded with music.

I can see the raised eyebrows already. This is the iPod age. What is so special about flash cards with preloaded music? It fills an important gap, that’s why. There is a large segment of our culture that is still completely intimidated by computers, or lacks any effective access to them. The need to download music on a computer and then move it to the player has long been a a stumbling block in the adoption of this new technology.

Ryan Kim at The San Francisco Chroncile shows us that SanDisk is well aware of this:

“That’s a big friction point with that model,” said Daniel Schreiber, senior vice president and general manager. “Either people are not downloading and transferring, or they’re getting someone else to do it. That offers a huge opportunity to bring music to people for whom this model is not ideal.”

SanDisk has tried to make that easier, first with the SlotMusic micro SD cards introduced in September that feature full albums from artists with the top four music labels. The cards, aimed at replacing the CD, can be played on most cell phones, PCs and music players that accept SD cards.

Now, the SlotRadio player allows a listener to be even more passive, letting a professional curate a gigantic mix tape based on top song charts. Schreiber said users can buy additional cards for $39.99 based on such themes as the best of the ’80s, current pop songs or working out.

You may have noticed another interesting thing  in the excerpt above, the special SD cards are playable in a variety of devices besides the SlotRadio. Of particular note is the fact that they are useful in what most recognize at the platform of the future: mobile phones.

I really quite like this, anything that helps bridge the digital divide on any level is of ultimate good for all of us. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for similar innovations as the reports from CES roll in.

Photo courtesy of Intel CES 08, used under its Creative Commons license


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