Sansa slotRadio Review



Last winter I reviewed the slotMusic player from Sansa. I thought it was an ok player for $20, but the lack of display and CD music cards made it less than desirable. Now we have another option with the slotRadio player. It includes a display and can play preloaded cards with 1000’s of songs as well as cards with your own songs. Is it worth $99 though? Let’s see.


Hardware Specs

Capacity: Zero on-board memory, includes slotRadio™ card with 1000 songs
Screen Size: OLED 1.5″ landscape
Colors: Silver
Expansion Slot: microSD/SDHC
Headphone Jacks: 1
Radio: FM tuner with presets
File Support: MP3, WMA
Connection: USB 2.0
Battery: Rechargeable up to 13 hours
Product Dimensions: 2.0 x 2.0 x .60 inches including the Clip
Product Weight: 1.3 oz


Package Contents

Sansa slotRadio player
slotRadio mix card with 1000 songs
AC Adapter
USB cable
slotRadio card case
Silicone sleeve for player
Quick Start Guide


The slotRadio player has a metal casing and a matte plastic top with two membrane style buttons on either side of a mono OLED display that move from genre to genre on slotMusic cards, or album to album if you put your own music (folders) on a microSD card.


The bottom edge has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB connector for charging the internal battery.


The top edge has a power/FM radio selector switch and the microSD slot.


On the left side are the volume adjustment buttons.


And on the right side is the next song / pause button. Press the button once to skip to the next song or hold it to pause playback. There isn’t a Previous song button though…


On the back is a large square metal clip.


The clip is pretty strong and looks like it’s meant as a belt clip. But it seems weird that if you did clip it to your belt, that the headphone jack is then pointing down. Oh well.


When you flip the switch to Play, the mono OLED display will spring to life with some simple animations that show the current genre along with the band name and song name scrolling across the bottom. It will also scroll the band and next song name.


Then the screen will go black and just show the band and song name across the bottom for a few seconds whenever a new song starts.

The player that was sent to me also included a slotMusic card with a mix of music genres including Rock, Country, R&B/Hiphop, Contemporary, Alternative, Workout and Chillout. There are supposed to be a 1000 songs on each card, so I haven’t tried to count how many are in each music type. The collection is decent and includes newer and older stuff. The cards are priced at $39.99. Currently there are only six different cards available: Rock, Country, Hip Hop / R&B, Oldies, 80’s & 90’s and Daily Mix.

The whole idea is that you buy these cards instead of downloading music. The cards have some kind of DRM because when I tried to read one with my Mac, it would not show the music files.

You can also put your own .MP3 or .WMA files on a microSD card and the slotRadio player will play them. It will show the album name and song name as well.

Sound quality is good. No complaints there. I am also happy to report that if you pause a song and then turn off the player and even go play the radio and then come back to play music, it will start from where you paused it.


The other feature built into this player is an FM radio that appears to be RDS capable. One of my local channels (not shown here) displays the call letters and song names as they play. Nice. You can seek channels as well as set presets. Reception is actually pretty good.

So is the Sansa slotRadio player a winner? Well, it’s definitely a step above their $20 slotMusic player due to the display and FM radio. But, I think the $99.99 price tag is about $50 too high given the fact that it doesn’t have any built in storage of its own, no previous track feature and no song shuffle feature. The idea of the slotMusic cards is interesting, but I really don’t see them taking off. I think people want to put their own music on a player. They don’t want to pay for stuff that they might not like. I’d rather have the Sansa Clip instead. It’s smaller, has a previous track button, FM radio, display, shuffle, voice recorder, 5 band equalizer, playlist creator, and you can get the 4GB model for about $60.

What is your favorite inexpensive small MP3 player and why?


Product Information

  • Easy to use
  • Nice for people that don't want to download music
  • RDS radio feature
  • No built in storage of its own
  • No song shuffle feature
  • No previous track button
  • Expensive
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Joe June 10, 2009, 3:36 am

    I agree that the clip is a great player. But for my dad, this was the absolute perfect gift. He “got it” within 5 minutes of opening the packaging (and that took another 5 minutes – great job Radio Shack! NOT!) – and was listening to his favorite genre (Country…) immediately after. Amazing. Never thought my dad would ever make it to the digital edge. This device bridged the gap (well, it at least got me a break from having to load music on an MP3 player for him). Whoever came up with this idea wasn’t thinking of you, Julie, or me. They were thinking about all those people who listen to radio, and enjoy it. It’s radio, only better – no commercials, no chatter, no interference. I also think that the price is very reasonable. You can now get 2000 songs for $99 at Radio Shack – they are running some sort of a special where you get the device plus a second card for the $99 (I got my dad the Oldies card, but I may need to swap it for Country).

  • andix June 10, 2009, 9:45 am

    I personally think it’s pointless and with not much future. first off, the cards are ever so tiny. chances are they’ll be lost in no time. then ok, some people might not know how to use a computer to load their iPods, but the same people won’t do much of the display of the Sansa (or the equalizer and voice recorder) either and are prone to lose the music cards as well.
    and finally, duh! – as far as design is concerned, it’s horrible despite being simple and practical. it looks like it’s designed by the same people who do kitchen scales.

  • Jackie Cheng June 10, 2009, 11:23 am

    I remember they wanted the SlotMedia to replace CDs but I doubt many people will go out to buy SlotMedia cards preloaded with music on it. Sandisk sent me the original SlotMedia player to sample awhile back. I gave it to my cousin and he hated it since there’s no screen and bulky compared to the ipod shuffle line. Personally I think this product is targeted for the older generation. Nice try Sandisk but I don’t think SlotMedia cards will be a standard media for music.

  • Geakz June 10, 2009, 11:25 am

    Maybe it is meant to be clipped on a belt upside down. Wouldn’t that allow for both the headphone jack to be on top as well as the screen to face the user when they look down at it? With the large teeth on the clip, it looks like it would stay put. Good job on the close up photos as always.

  • Martin June 10, 2009, 12:41 pm

    Come on SanDisk, what’s the deal here? Were you looking to make a link between the Fuze and the Clip? If so, this is their retarded love-child. It took me like 10 seconds to think of a better design. Drop the word ‘Sansa’ off the front of the player. You don’t have to constantly remind the owner who made the player. Add two more arrows (up and down) for better navigation. Put the Sansa logo in a corner as a button. Done deal. I just made your product useful!

  • John Kes June 10, 2009, 4:10 pm

    So now we get to buy the same music on different media? We did the same thing going from LP to cassette to CD to iTunes DRM. Not for me.

  • Harold June 10, 2009, 5:21 pm

    I love the Sansa Clip. It has a small, OLED display, up to 8 gigabytes of on board RAM, FM radio and a voice recorder. It uses Windows Media Player to sync content and reads pretty much every format except Apple’s lossless. It’s perfect for working out, running or walking.

  • Andy Chen June 10, 2009, 6:38 pm

    This thing reminds me of the digital equivalent of the 8-track tape. I dunno why.

  • Rick Papovich June 10, 2009, 9:48 pm

    I agree with the 8-track comment. It’s kinda cool how it keeps your spot on every channel as you click through. I’m excited for the 80s and 90s card. I have a Sansa Fuze. I upgraded the firmware so it’s supposed to be compatible with the slotRadio cards now. I just have dive in an spend the $40. We’ll see. If at least half the songs are decent that’s not a bad deal. Has anyone heard the quality? What bit rate is it? Does it sound clean?

    • Julie June 11, 2009, 7:41 am

      @Rick I can’t tell what the bit quality is since the files are somehow hidden or encrypted when I view the microSD card through my Mac. I haven’t tried doing that with a Windows machine though. Sound quality is fine to my ears. Good bass, treble, etc.

      @Seb Yes, you can have different folders. That’s how I have my music separated. I have the artist and then under that folder, individual album folders. That said, I haven’t tried taking a bunch of individual songs and put them all in one folder to see if it keeps that grouping. I’ll try to remember to do that tonight and report back.

      • Julie June 11, 2009, 5:48 pm

        @Seb I made a folder called Music with a bunch of random songs. The slotMusic Player thinks it’s an album and keeps the order. In other words, it will play all the songs in one folder.

  • andix June 11, 2009, 9:56 am

    haha. I wanted to mention the 8-track too. sounds like I’m not the only one after all.

  • Donald Brown June 20, 2009, 7:40 am

    I heard the new Sansa Slot Radio at Radio Shack, and I have to say that it sounded pretty good, especially since their display was using large standard stereo headphones on it.

    I have some really good ear buds that I had purchased from Wal-Mart a while back, so I know that they’ll sound great on it when I get my new player.

    What I don’t understand though, is why they didn’t put a button to go back to the previous song? I don’t know what’s up with that, but I do love the concept of buying music on SD cards.

    The whole concept of this is to provide people with yet another way to get their music especially if they’re uncomfortable with ordering music online, or using complicated software just to load the music onto their player. I think thta it will go over quite well.

    When I walked into my local Radio Shack, I asked them how many of these units were currently being sold, and at this time, they said that they had only sold 1 unit. If I were a Sandisk representative, I would stand outside the store, and try to get people in to listen, and I would talk about the player, and its benefits so that they would be sold.

    The price tag of $99 is actually a great deal if you ask me. When you bundle that with 1 music card with 1000 songs on it, then you’re really getting a great deal. Here’s why.

    The average CD costs at around $16 when you buy it in a music store. The average CD also has about 10 songs on it. Now at that price, you would pay $1600 for 100 CD’s.

    Now that’s a lot of money for 1000 songs if you ask me, but since you’re only paying $39 for each individual card, I still think that it is a pretty darn good deal. If this really took off, I could see pre loaded cards with individual artists on then that would contain all their music. Just imagine having 1000 Elvis songs? Or what about 1000 Kiss songs, or even 1000 Rolling Stones Songs? Can you see where this is going?

    So if I wewre you, I would go out today if you can and pick up one of these players and set yourself up with a whole boatload of music. This would be great for road trips, or playing music at parties and such, provided that ou have the right equipment to do so.

    This is something that has been a long time in coming, and I can’t understand why they didn’t come out with this sooner. Not everyone wants a complicated I-Pod player that is bundled with commplicated software and has functions burried in countless menu structures.

    Most people just want to hear the music, not navigate through complicated menu structures, or worry about using commplicated, bloated software just to load music onto their players. You can also use your own cards on this device as well.

    One thing that I find interesting about this unit is its capability of handling both the micro SD and the standard sized SD cards, which you can purchase already pre loaded with music.

    I also like the idea that it is rechargeable, which means no more buying countless supplies of batteries to power the unit. Plus the fact that it comes with a power cord means that you don’t have to always use the battery power when you don’t have to.

    Connect the device to a home stereo system with a patch cable, and you have a non-stop music experience like you have never heard before.

    Connect it to one of those I-pod docs with a line-in plug and play music at parties and other places where music may be required.

    If you purchase an adaptor which allows for you to plug in a wall plug into a cigarette lighter, you can have countless hours of music while on those long extended road trips.

    That is great for children, if your car has two cigarette lighter plugs inside it, one in the front and one in the back.

    So as you can see here, there are all sorts of possibilities with this new player. So like I said earlier, if you can, go out today and grab you one of these. you won’t regret it one bit!

    • Julie June 21, 2009, 4:09 pm

      @Donald Brown Thank you for your comments. I can understand where you’re coming from with a lot of what you’re saying. The only thing is that people don’t have any control over what music is on those microSD cards. Yes, they can pick the genre, but out of the 1000 songs, it’s hard to say how many you will truly enjoy.

      You mention that the slot radio is capable of using both microSD and standard sized SD cards. The slotRadio that I reviewed can only accommodate microSD cards… Did you purchase a different model player?

  • Rick Papovich June 21, 2009, 12:38 am

    Father in-law gave it two thumbs up today. He liked the instructions of all things! Got him the player and the country card. I secretly wanted to check it out myself anyway. The real test will be after he uses it for a while. Not sure if he’s just being nice cause it’s a gift or if he really likes it. Sounds good. Played with Philips sports headphones, much better than the cheapos in the box. Can’t figure out how the music is protected on the card. Can’t even see it. Although the card plays fine in my fuze too so it’s not locked to the device just the card. Sounds a bit better than my XM radio in the car. Not as compressed, I’m guessing somewhere around the 128-192 range.

  • Donald Brown June 23, 2009, 10:28 pm

    That was my mistake as far as the size of cards that the unit took. The reason why I thought that it also took the regular sized cards was because on the display in Radio Shack, they had both the standard cards and the mini cards together in one display.

    Just to let you all know here, I have a sight impairment so going through countless menu structures just doesn’t do anything for me at all.

    Let me ask you all a question ok? What do you think is the most important thing; going through countless menus just to find the song that you want to play, or just plopping in a card and having music instantly?

    It seams like everybody has gone screen happy. We didn’t have all those screens when we listened to cassettes, or LPs. Many of today’s MP3 players are more complicated than what they really need to be. I don’t want to have to search through countless menus just to find the genre, album, artist, and then the song that I want to hear. Why should I jump through all those unnecessary hoops just to hear a song?

    I think that simplicity is much better than all that complicated mumbo jumbo.

    With both the sansa clip and the Sansa slot, there’s really no need to look at the screen to navigate either player because it can all be done through the buttons.

    With the little vision that I do have, when it comes to using my Sansa Clip, I can see the picture representations of each of the items that the Sansa Clip is able to handle, such as voice recording, radio and music.

    All of the Sansa line is pretty simple to use and doesn’t require all that Micky Mouse software just to transfer files to and from their players. Sansa has kept things rather simple. That’s the way that it should be. Nobody needs all that complication just to listen to music.

    I will always be a dedicated Sansa customer. Oh, and here’s yet another thing that I need to let you guys know about. When it comes to all that bloated software that usually comes bundled with most players, such as the I-Pods, the software isn’t blind friendly.

    Blind and visually impaired people who use computers use what are called screen readers. These are programs that read aloud the text that is on the screen. Most of the screen readers can’t read the text that is on the I-Tunes software because I-Tunes is too graphical in nature.

    Also, the I-Pods themselves aren’t blind friendly either. That is why I love the Sansa line of products. They’re simple, easy to use and they’re blind friendly.

    If I can drag and drop files onto a USB flash drive, then I can also use the Sansa products too because they offer that same functionality.

    Oh, by the way, if anyone here has a Sansa Slot Radio, could you please email me a copy of the product’s instruction manual? You can send it to the email address here below.

    I want to read more on the product before purchasing.

    If you haven’t yet purchased a slot radio, then by all means do so. You won’t regret it one bit. Remember, it’s simple, easy to use, and doesn’t require a computer to listen to the music, or to get the music. The sound quality is excellent, and it handles files with a bitrate of 320, which is actually above CD quality. Most people record their MP3 files at either 128, 192 bitrate or higher to get that CD quality sound.

    If they come out with a holiday music card then watch out because I’m going to be the hit of the Christmas party!

  • M July 31, 2009, 10:21 am

    The reason why you can not see the list of files on the microSD cards is that the SD is an abbreviation for “Secure” Digital. These cards were designed with the intention of allowing companies to distribute software (or in this case music) on the cards in a way which allows a customer to use, but not copy, the contents of the card. How does it do so? No one (publicly) knows, because a vendor is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to find out that answer. Hence, those who do know can not legally say.

  • Mike January 6, 2010, 4:30 pm

    320 kilobits per seconds is not above CD quality. CD’s play back audio at a bit rate of 1,411.2 kilobits per second,

  • Todd January 29, 2010, 2:41 pm

    I am 49 years old and have ZERO patience for complicated gadgets and downloading songs. I owned an ipod for a week before I just gave it away – realizing I’d never take the time to regularly “maintain” the necessary input.
    I work out dailiy, love music, and needed something small and easy to use with great sound quality. SANSA! Bingo!! This is EXACTLY what I needed. I bought a rock disc with 1000 songs and don’t have to do anything except turn it on & start listening. It’s about time!!!

  • Toad January 19, 2011, 3:05 am

    i just found the answer to hassle free music – slotradio…i just love the rock SR card..

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