Companies claiming to take a bite out of the Apple iPod are literally a dime a dozen. And their claims have been worth about as much. No single piece of technology has stirred things up in recent years (or earned as many wanna-bes) as much as the iPod. Its reign is, for now, solid.
But that doesn't mean the portable music business is closed for business.
One company that has recognized that is SanDisk. The maker of flash storage cards has seen its music player, the Sansa, achieve a solid #2 rating in the marketplace, not a bad place to be. In rolling out its newest player, called Slot Radio, SanDisk is admitting that the iPod is number one. But it's also looking for a few good music fans who don't want to be tied to a computer.
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Slot Radio, first of all, is not going to remind you of the iPod. Not such a bad thing. It's different, in that you slide tiny cards into its small square body. Each card has 1,000 songs. At $40 a card, you're paying four cents per song. The down side? The songs are not chosen by you, but for you. Billboard will roll a plethora of songs from a category (rock, R&B, country, etc) into a card. You plug it in, and you've got music. No downloading, no software, just a card and its home.
Will it work? SanDisk has always kept its expectations rational (read: un Apple-like), and Slot Radio isn't getting a huge, splashy , Madonna-assisted launch. I'm willing to give it a try at the gym and see if it's a good workout companion. If you're willing, SanDisk will be selling it first on its website, then, in May, at Radio Shack.
About a hundred bucks. No strings or album art attached.