Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Music Tech: Sansa Slot Music Player

Sansa SlotMusic Player

I bought a Sansa Slot Music Player in December and haven't used it as much as I do my iPods. It is a small, portable music player that is very affordable at just barely under $20. Slot Music Players are available at WalMart, Best Buy stores, and other retailers.

The Slot Music player was introduced in October 2008 as the device to support a new music media format called "Slot Music". The record industry allied themselves with SanDisk to issue complete record albums with DRM-free MP3 songs, bonus tracks, liner notes and album art on microSD cards. The microSD card is the heart of the Slot Music player.

THE HARDWARE

What makes the player attractive for me is its small size, affordable price, the use of a standard, replaceable AAA battery and the potential flexibility to haul around a rather large music library spread out over a few large capacity microSD cards that can fit in the palm of your hand.

The Slot Music Player itself is a bare-bones no-nonsense device that have 3 track control buttons (fast forward, play, pause, rewind), volume control and a headphone jack. The tiny earbuds that come with the player are adequate, but I prefer full size, standard headphones for better sound or connecting the player to an external audio device such as a car or home stereo. Still as a portable take anywhere device, the Slot Music Player is just as capable as the Apple iPod Shuffle or Nano.

The one thing that the Slot Music Player doesn't have is a clip or a lanyard that you can use to secure the player to your body or clothes. So it is best used as a pocket or purse device. There may be some accessories available that enhance the portability of this player.

The Slot Music Player runs on one standard AAA alkali or rechargeable battery. The battery life for a standard alkali battery is fairly long. You will know when the battery starts losing its charge. The player will beep and shut off while content is playing. Time to change the battery. Luckily since this uses a common battery, plenty are available almost anywhere on Earth.

File formats that are supported by the Slot Music player are DRM-free MP3 and WMA. The player does not support Apple's proprietary AAC format.

SLOT MUSIC MICRO SD CARD

The tiny microSD card is the size of a fingernail and can hold more than one complete record album as well as the aforementioned art and liner notes. Retailers are selling albums such as Sugarland's "Love on the Inside" and Abba's "Gold" in the Slot Music format for about $16.99 each.

Whether or not we need a new music delivery format remains to be seen. I don't think the Slot Music format is selling very well at least by looking at what is available at my WalMart store 5 months after launch.

User can purchase blank microSD cards and fill them up with more music than any pre-paid album could. The price for blank cards range from

USING THE SLOT MUSIC PLAYER

To use the player you press the play button once and wait for the tiny blue LED light to come on. Press play again and your music begins to play. Press the pause button and the music stops. You can press the fast forward to skip a track or press rewind to go back a track.

There is a slot on the side of the player to insert and eject the microSD card. You press on the microSD card itself to eject it from the spring loaded slot.

All tracks play in the order loaded on to the microSD card. Store bought microSD albums will play in the order listed just like their CD counterparts. Music that you load to blank microSD cards will play in the order you loaded them. There are no shuffle modes or playlist display.

You can drag and drop entire albums or individual tracks to blank microSD cards (on your computer) and have more variety and albums than the store bought albums... and for a lot less. This is good if you have a large digital music collection that you want to take with you.

The beauty of the system is that you can make your music library as large as you want to by purchasing additional blank cards and loading all your music to each one.

The audio sound is adequate, though it seems the player does not max out its sound as loud as the iPod. With a good set of headphones and pushing the volume near the maximum level, you will get good sound playback. You can also connect the player to an external sound source such as a home or car stereo with the proper wiring.

To install and remove the battery you slide the external cover off. This reveals the inner workings of the player and the battery compartment. Just snap the standard AAA battery into place and slide the cover back on. The player is ready to go.

While the Slot Music Player is heavier than the iPod Shuffle, it still is a good portable player to slip into your pocket and take with you.

PROS
  • Small
  • Replaceable battery (standard AAA)
  • Affordable - slightly less than $20
  • Comes with 1 battery, earbuds, documentation
  • Decent sound
  • No DRM in pre-recorded, purchased albums available on micro-SD cards
  • Music is transferable to computer, other music devices, cell phone
  • Plays MP3 and WMA files
  • MP3 files can be played on iPod and iTunes
  • Availability of blank microSD card allows you to create your own, longer music mixes
  • Drag and drop interface for computer and microSD card
  • Does not require computer if you only go with pre-recorded microSD card albums
  • microSD card can be used with other devices, audio player, cell phone, camera
CONS
  • Small - can be lost or stolen
  • Heavier than iPod Shuffle
  • No display screen
  • Plays content in the order loaded to media card only
  • No shuffle mode
  • Tiny microSD card may require adapter to use with your computer
  • microSD card albums are expensive usually $16.99 for 1 single album
  • very limited selection of available, pre-recorded microSD albums
  • new music format - long term success as music format uncertain
  • blank microSD cards slightly pricier than standard SD card
  • microSD card very tiny, can easily be lost
  • No support for Apple's iTunes, though non-DRM MP3 tracks can be dragged to card
  • Does not play Apple AAC music files
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & LINKS

1 comment:

pricego.org said...

Sansa slot music player is surely a best buy for anyone. You can get it as a very cheap price.

cheap mp3 players