It’s only been four months since I reviewed Slacker’s first generation Slacker Personal Radio Player, and now they have a new model available called the G2. I’ve loved using their first player, so I was super excited to be able to get my hands on a second generation unit. Second generation units are always better than their predecessors right? Let’s find out…
Display: 2.4″ diagonal 320 x 240 TFT-LCD
Capacity: 4GB or 8GB
Audio Formats: MP3, WMA & AAC
Battery type: Li-Polymer, up to 15hrs play time
Dimensions: 3.42 x 0.53 x 2.10 in (87 x 13.5 x 53mm)
Weight: 2.6 oz (74g)
Plastic belt carrier
Earbuds with 3 sizes of ear tips
Quick Start Guide
If you’re not familiar with the Slacker Personal Radio, it’s a WiFi enabled radio that is used in conjunction with the free web radio service at http://slacker.com. Think of it as web radio on the go.
It doesn’t stream music like web radio clients on your desktop computer, it
refreshes station content (music) via WiFi.
The G2 is available in two capacities: 4GB and 8GB. You can choose up to 25 different stations for the 4GB device and up 40 stations for the 8GB device. There are currently 110 stations (and growing) available to choose from. There’s Rock, Classical, Country, Blues, Comedy, Seasonal music, etc. If you don’t see a station that you like, you can even create your own by building a list of your favorite artists. Mix country with classical and throw in a pinch of Spanish pop. It’s entirely up to you.
The G2 player is a complete redesign from the original player. As you can see, it’s significantly smaller. Smaller is typically better in the gadget world, but I have to say that I do kind of miss the larger display of the original player. The G2′s display is no slouch though. It’s bright, vivid and easy to read.
The device is about the size of an old school pager, with a Black plastic shell. The face of the G2 is slick and glossy. Yay, fingerprints and smudges… The sides and part of back have a thin rubber coating. The back of the device has a brushed aluminum covering, with the Slacker emblem.
The face of the G2 has five buttons. Along the the top are the favorite and ban buttons. If you use Slacker’s free service, pressing the heart button will cause the currently playing song to play more often. If you have the premium service, pressing the heart button will copy that track into your library (if the song has been licensed to allow that… some aren’t) so that you can play it whenever you like. Pressing the ban button will cause the currently playing song to not play again
on that station. Yay, no more Jonas Brothers ever again! My life is instantly
Along the bottom are normal music playback buttons for Prev, Next, Play and Pause.
The Play/Pause button doubles as a wake up and shutdown button when you hold it
down for several seconds.
The top edge of the player has a volume rocker button and a stereo headphone jack.
On the Right side, you’ll find a jog dial that you can use to scroll through stations and menu items. Pressing the
dial in will select items. Below the jog dial is the menu button. Press it to go to the home menu. At the bottom a hold switch.
The bottom edge has a dock connector that isn’t currently used for anything. Maybe we’ll see a car dock at some point though…
The user interface
The user interface on the G2 isn’t that much different than the previous version. While a song is playing, the station’s name is listed at the top, with the album art occupying most of the screen. The current song’s title and artist name are beneath it. There’s also a song progress bar with a time counter and the name of the next song’s artist.
You can skip to the next track by using the next button. If you’re a premium
subscriber, you can skip as many times as you like. If you have the free
service, you can only skip 6 times per station, per hour.
You might wonder if you can press the Prev track button to replay a song. You
can’t do this in the station mode. You can play previous tracks from your
library or playlists though.
One of the features that I love about the Slacker Personal Radio is the artist and album info. Using the jog dial, you can select the album and click on it, to read a review of that album. Clicking on the artist’s name will show you a picture of the artist and display their bio.
Pressing the menu button will scroll up the main menu, which includes picks for stations, library, playlists, settings and connect.
Stations displays a list of all the stations on your player so that you can easily switch between them.
Library displays the songs that you’ve marked as favorites if you have a premium
subscription, or songs that you’ve copied to the player using the desktop
Playlists are created from the music in your library.
Connect will initiate a refresh of the stations via WiFi. This is also initiated
automatically when you use the USB power adapter to charge the G2. You can continue to use your player to listen to music while it’s refreshing content.
Audio quality, battery life and performance
I’ve noticed that the G2 does have slightly better audio quality over the original device. There’s even a new equalizer feature that you can use to customize the audio, as well
as volume normalization options. I keep the EQ set to off and still think the audio quality of the G2 is better than the G1.
Battery life has been improved too. The original unit could play for around 10hrs per charge and this new model can go for an additional 5hrs.
As far as performance goes, I found navigating menus and lists to feel snappy. The only speed issue that I can complain about is that it takes too long for the G2 to boot up
after being powered off for a period of time.
Do you need a computer to use the Slacker G2 player?
You really only need a computer for two things. You need access to a web browser in order to select your stations, change your stations or create stations.
If you want to copy your own music to the player, you have to download a client application which is currently
only available for Windows computers. If you’re a Mac person like I am, you can just use the Slacker website to manage your stations.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to copy your own music to your player though…
Should you spring for the premium service?
The premium service gives you unlimited skips, no ads or DJ commentary and the ability to have favorite songs saved to your device for anytime listening. With the free service,
you do get the skip feature, but you can only skip 6 times per station, per hour. I went ahead and paid for the premium service when I purchased the original Slacker radio.
Is the Slacker G2 Personal Radio a worthy successor to the original?
If you already have the first gen unit and don’t mind the size or 10hr battery life, I would say that an upgrade to the G2 is not really necessary. The main differences between
the G1 and G2 are:
Over 40% smaller in size
Improved audio quality
Custom EQ and Volume Normalization options
Improved Wi-Fi connectivity and transfer speeds
25% longer battery life
The Slacker G2 Personal Radio is a great little device for people that like to discover new music. I love mine and hope Slacker continues to improve upon thier product. I can’t wait
to see what the G3 will bring us.
Premium service: $9.99 3/mo. (billed as $29.99), $8.88 6/mo. (billed as $49.99), 12 month $7.50/mo. (billed as $89.99)