Earlier this year SanDisk introduced a new format to deliver music called slotMusic. This is simply a 1GB microSD card with DRM-free digital files on it. This format is backed by some of the major record labels such as EMI, Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner.
To go along with this new format SanDisk has introduced the slotMusic player. This memory-less and screen-less player relies solely on microSD for music playback. The idea is that non-tech savvy users will be able to swap out their purchased slot music albums.
I don’t believe that slotMusic will revolutionize the music industry, but may do well in certain niche markets. Aside from the new music format, the player itself is an interesting story.
In the basic form the slotMusic cards will contain DRM-Free MP3 at 320kbps. Artists and record lables may opt to add liner notes, other digital formats, music videos, or even master copies for other to remix. When released these cards will sell for $15 and many of you will say, “Why don’t they just buy the CD and have an archival and lossless copy?” To be honest, I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out who will be purchasing this format. I understand that it gives people who don’t want to mess with ripping and computers an option, but I’m skeptical that there is a sustainable market in its current state.
I do think there is a bigger opportunity for slotMusic to accompany a CD. $15-20 would be a great price if the CD included the slotMusic card. Additionally, there is the possibly of a collectability play by adding art to the actual microSD card or by packaging it in something nicer than a cardboard sleeve.
The slotPlayer does have a collectability factor with artist branding and preloaded music selling around $35. These players may vary including perhaps just the artist’s picks or perhaps even an entire discography. It’s a pretty neat option for the fan.
If you are not interested in an artist branded player the slotPlayer will sell for $20 and include only headphones and an AAA battery; you will need to supply your own memory. It’s about the size of two lighters and feels very robust. Aside from the sleeve and some of the internals, the player is solid metal. While it is not close to premium player it is more than what you would expect from a $20 player.
I did test an 8GB card and it played without any problems so it may even play 16GB cards, though without a screen I’m not sure you want to. I pulled this card out directly from my Nokia e71 and popped it in the slotPlayer. On this card was about 2GB of music and another 2GB or so of application and data files- yet the music started within a second or two.
What I also found to be impressive is that the player will resume down to the second even if you take the card out. I actually took the card out, put it in my phone for the day, and it resumed a day later when I put it back in the slotPlayer.
The player will also stop if headphones are removed, a really nice feature to conserve battery life. The only indicator of the player being on is a small LED and this might be missed if you were to leave it on.
There is not much else to say about playback since it doesn’t get much easier than: the play/pause buttons, play and pause; and the skip buttons… well, you get the point.
The slotMusic player isn’t go
ing t win any awards, but I was surprised to find decent sound quality from this $20 music player. It is not as open as the Sansa Clip and lacks the dynamics, but I could see myself using this while running or at the gym provided I didn’t have a Sansa Clip (my gym player of choice).
I’m not sure how the slotMusic format will play out since I don’t yet understand that niche market so I will be anxiously watching. On the other hand I do find a $20 micorSD player to be rather interesting. To the readers of this site, it may only serve as a backup player for mowing the lawn or going for a run (though for $15 more you can buy a Sansa Clip that has a screen and has better sound quality). But also, this may be a good way to introduce the non-tech savvy to digital music.