Although playing music on the slotPlayer is similar to playing music on other digital music players, the way you purchase music can be very different. SanDisk is working with all four major music labels to release their music on a new medium call slotMusic. EMI, Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner are all producing slotMusic, so several different artists are available. Right now you can get a good variety of artists, including Abba, Akon, Robin Thicke, and even Elvis. However, many artists and even several genres and not yet represented. For the slotMusic format to really work, the selection of music will have to grow in the future.
When you purchase a slotMusic card, you get a 1 GB microSD card with an album from your favorite artist. Most albums in slotMusic format retail for USD 14.99 which is roughly the same price as a CD. There are some bundles available which give you an album by your favorite artist, a slotPlayer cover with his or her image, and the slot player itself. These generally retail for USD 34.99. While we felt the slotPlayer itself at USD 19.99 is a bargain, we would like to see the slotMusic at a lesser price.
While USD 14.99 might be okay for those who don’t have a computer or don’t want to play around with the music, computer owners would be able to buy the CD and rip the music to a SD card. This would give them two copies, with the CD being higher quality, without having to pay too much extra.
The slotMusic card usually has the music in DRM-Free MP3s at 320 Kbps. At the discretion of the artists and record labels the slotMusic card may also contain other digital formats, liner notes, music videos, album art, or even master copies for remixing. While you can’t access the art or videos from the slotPlayer, you can use the slotPlayer adapter or any other microSD adapter to copy and/or move the music and other extras to your computer.
slotMusic cards come in a cardboard wrapper which, as shown in Figure 9, resembles a CD package in size, shape, and design. Inside the package you get an SD card with the music and a small plastic storage case which has the name and cover design of the album.
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Figure 9: A slotMusic package with contents.
Although you probably won’t lose the slotPlayer itself, these microSD cards are very small, as shown in Figure 10, and can be easily misplaced or lost. Each slotMusic card has a slotMusic logo indicating that it was purchased with music on it. However, due to a lack of space, the name of the album is not on the card. So if you start to invest in slotMusic, you will want to keep the cards in their small plastic cases and may even want to purchase a slotMusic case from SanDisk to hold the plastic cases.
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Figure 10: microSD cards are really small.
You don’t need a computer to play slotMusic on your slotPlayer. You simply insert the SD card and you are good to go. However, you can also use the included USB adapter to move music to and from the SD card and to view any additional material on the slotMusic card. Most slotMusic cards have plenty of extra space, so you can add music to play along with the album that you purchased.
If you transfer your own music to a microSD card, you can also play it on your slotPlayer. The player supports MP3 (up to 320 kbps) and WMA (up to 192kbps without digital rights management).The slotPlayer can accommodate micro SDHC cards as well as regular microSD cards. It will recognize cards up to 16GB, but without a screen or a way to choose what you want to play, most people probably won’t need to be using such a high capacity card in this player.
You can also use your slotMusic card in any device that plays music from microSD cards. There are millions of mobile phones already on the market can play slotMusic cards. We used the slotMusic card in one of our phones and it worked perfectly.
One nice thing about the slotPlayer is that it remembers where you left off and when you restart the player it will pick up at exactly the same part of the song where you left it. We were surprised that after we tried the slotMusic card in our phone and played several songs, when we returned the card to the slotPlayer, it remembered exactly where we were when we last played the card in the slotPlayer.
Unfortunately, there is no shuffle mode in the slotPlayer. The songs play in album order, and you can fast forward and rewind, but after using it for a few weeks, we longed for a shuffle mode.
The SanDisk slotMusic Player uses the same audio chip as the SanDisk Sansa Fuze and we found the music quality to be very good, just as it is in the Fuze. Although there is no equalizer or sound settings, we found that the slotPlayer provided better sound quality than we expected from a USD 20 device. As usual, we hated the hard ear buds and immediately replaced them with softer ones that fit our ears better.
Although we found the slotPlayer easy to use, the first time it emitted three beeps and shut down, we were not quite sure what that meant, so we surfed over to the SanDisk Sansa website to see if we could find a user’s manual. We really had trouble finding it until we discovered the Sansa community page. It not only gave us the manual, but also included really great blogs, forums, videos, and articles on the various Sansa products.
BTW, the manual didn’t mention anything about the three beeps, but we quite quickly determined that this was a low battery signal. We put in a new battery and were good to go.