Check it out--a new rival to satellite radio. They're just getting launched, so right now they're streaming everything over the web for free. Sounds better than most web radio, but I can't find the bitrate they're using. The service lets you say whether you like each song, or not, and it tailors each channel's playlist to your personal preferences. So far this sounds like Pandora, so what makes Slacker different?
This summer they promise to have a portable player about the size of an iPod that'll cache your personalized stations, so you can take your personalized stations with you while you're on the go. There's also talk that the player will be WiFi enabled, so that it can continue to update while you're out and about.
Then, in the second half of this year Slacker's going to have a satellite car kit that'll let you plug your portable player into your car stereo and receive station updates via satellite. Again, everything's cached on the player, so even if you're stuck in a tunnel during a traffic jam you won't lose your tunes.
There will be two service tiers: a free tier that is ad supported and that limits how often you can skip a song (right now they're talking about six skips an hour per channel), and an ad-free tier for $8/mo. with unlimited skips and probably some unannounced perks as well.
The crafty part is that they're leasing unused satellite bandwidth so that they don't have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars launching an orbital infrastructure. They are also relying on WiFi for ground repeaters, as opposed to the dedicated repeaters like Sirius and XM have installed in most of the major metro areas.
This is a pretty interesting mashup of internet radio, satellite radio, WiFi radio, and portable player tech that just might become greater than the sum of its parts.