SanDisk slotRadio Player

Aron Schatz
February 18, 2010
Product Page
slotRadio Player
SanDisk slotRadio Player
The SanDisk slotRadio Player may be a nice form factor and easy to use, but the use of DRM encumbered media means that it won't get our recommendation.

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While there are plenty of portable music players on the market (some more known than others), not everyone can easily locate and find music they might enjoy without paying a bunch of money to just test it out. SanDisk has the solution with their slotRadio initiative. The only problem is that it contains DRM and even though you purchase the media, you can't get to the individual songs. Still, we'll see if the combination is worthwhile or not.



The retail packaging for the slotRadio player is a blister case. These are always annoying to get into so be careful or you may cut yourself opening it.


One thing that always gets some style points is how the product is packaged inside the container. SanDisk put some thought into the first impression model by giving a good look when you open up the box. The top section contains the Sansa player and earbuds.


The next layer contains a micro USB cable along with a USB AC adapter. Also included is a manual and a coupon for another slotRadio card purchase. There is a silicone case for protecting the unit as well, though, it is pretty sturdy by itself. Not shown is the slotRadio mix media.


Here is the real meat of the bundle. The player, slotRadio media, and the earbuds round out the package. The player itself looks very simple and that is the way it is presented.


The slotRadio media is just a microSD card with the added DRM (SD means SecureDigital, after all). We are not fond of any product that contains DRM, but since this was sent, we are reviewing it just the same. SanDisk makes other media called slotMusic that is pro-consumer without DRM on it.

Sansa slotRadio Player


The player itself is pretty basic. It has only two buttons on the face and a big color LCD screen on the front. Remember that this device is going for the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) mentality. The buttons are not touch sensitive buttons, but are actual hardware press buttons so you'll need to use some force to use them. Since they are hardware buttons, they can be used with gloves (a huge problem for capacitive touch screens).


This is a SanDisk creation. The back of the unit contains a very sturdy clip to use when working out or just doing daily activities. The side shown contains a single button that performs skipping to the next piece of music, pausing, and playing. You hold the button in to pause while a quick press will skip to the next track. Playing is a simple click after pausing.


The button of the unit contains the stereo jack (3.5mm for standard issue headphones) as well as the micro-USB charging port. The unit also acts as a USB mass storage device when you connect it to the computer, but the slotRadio cards are mostly useless with the DRM that they are encumbered with. The other side shown contains the volume controls. Plus is for increased volume and minus is for decreased volume.


The top contains the hardware switch for changing radio modes (Off/FM/slotRadio) as well as the slotRadio card slot. Like all microSD slots, this clicks into place and locks. Pressing it will release it again.
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While the included earbuds are fine for use, many readers would prefer to listen using other methods like standard headphones. Earbuds are the easiest thing to include in the packaging, though. The Sansa slotRadio player is a very simple to use device and works well. It is intuitive to use. The picture shows the FM radio portion of the device. The tuner can tune to a precision of .1 MHz, but stations in the USA only use odd ending frequencies. In other parts of the world, you might get more stations using the even ending stations. The front buttons control the tuning.


In the slotRadio mode, the front buttons control the genre of music. Since this is a radio device, you can only skip to the next track. Even though you have all this music available, you can't selectively pick which songs you want to listen to at any time. This is a big minus on the device since it nearly forces you to listen to everything you don't want to hear to get to your own good tracks. It isn't a standard MP3 player, after all. The slotRadio media and player should be considered a new version of radio without the need of a signal. You don't have control over your media, that's the bottom line. Still, some people may be interested in the sampling of music offered that they would otherwise not buy individually. These people might find value in this player.

The complimentary video review is added for your viewing pleasure. ASE Labs' Editor-in-Chief strikes again.


ASE Labs will not ever recommend a device that contains DRM, period. We like the simple design and the UI offers some nice visualizations to go with the music. That doesn't make up for the fact that this device and the media are encumbered with DRM and this is a non-starter for us at ASE Labs. We believe in pro-consumer devices like other models in the Sansa line. Most of them are normal MP3 players as well. If you wanted to try slotRadio, pick up another Sansa MP3 player with the capability built into the device.

This might be a good gift item as long as you are strictly aware of the limitations presented to you. It might be frustrating when you aren't able to find the music you want to hear easily. It is on special right now, but most things with DRM are cheaper due to the huge restrictions in place. We leave the final decision for you to decide for yourself. Our minds are made up.

ASE Labs would like to thank SanDisk for making this review possible.


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