CES 2009: SanDisk Makes Music Easy

If you can't get your head around digital downloads, music library synchronisation and bit rates, SanDisk has the answer.

The player is constructed from aluminium and sports an integrated clip at the rear for easy transport. The microSD card slot obviously accepts the slotRadio cards, but it will also playback standard MP3 or WMA files. There’s also a built-in FM tuner with RDS, so if you want to go old school, the option is there. If there’s a slight disappointment it’s the 13 hour battery life, which is not too impressive by today’s standards.

The slotRadio player will launch with a recommended US price of $99.99, which includes one microSD card loaded with 1,000 songs. Additional cards will be available for $39.99 each, split into the following categories – Rock, Country, Modern Rock, R&B/Hip Hop, Latin/World, Decades (this one will be fun) and Daily Motion (your guess is as good as mine). The tracks on the slotRadio cards are encrypted, so you won’t be able to use the card in a standard MP3 player, or copy the files elsewhere. However, the card will play in any slotRadio device, and SanDisk was keen to point out that there will be a firmware upgrade for the Sansa Fuze that will make it slotRadio compatible.

Details were very thin, but SanDisk did confirm that slotRadio compatible phones will be hitting the market sometime in 2009, which makes sense considering that most phones ship with a microSD card slot these days. Also, considering how much of a pain it can be to get music onto a mobile phone, this will probably be the most active market for the format.

Although encrypted, the tracks on the slotMusic cards will be in MP3 format, but SanDisk couldn’t confirm what bit rate would be used for the encodes. Obviously the bit rate will be dependant on the capacity of the cards, since SanDisk has decided on the standard of 1,000 tracks per card. I just hope that quality won’t be compromised too much in order to user lower capacity cards, but then I guess if you’re really concerned with sound quality you’ll be encoding your own music in the first place.

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