Daily deal – Slacker 4GB Wi-Fi Internet Radio for $79.99

My daily deal for today is for the Slacker 4GB Wi-Fi Internet Radio. I’ve reviewed Slacker here before, and their portable player was selected as one of the best travel products of 2008.

The player on sale today is their previous generation unit, and while it may look nothing like the version I reviewed, it does offer the same functionality and of course, it uses the fantastic Slacker.com online music service.

This player normally retails for about $150, but buy.com has it on sale today for just $79.99 with free shipping.

Included with the player is a charger, USB cable and a pair of headphones. The basic Slacker music service is free to use, but for the best experience, you’ll want to upgrade to Slacker Premium.

If you are ordering this as a Christmas gift, then I suggest upgrading to 2-day shipping, you’ll find the buy.com Holiday shipping schedule here.

Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways – day 1 – Slacker G2 personal radio player

Welcome to day one of the Gadling Gadget Giveaway. Starting today, and for the next 10 weekdays, we’ll be giving away some fantastic prizes.

Today’s prize, is for a Slacker G2 personal radio player. This wireless enabled portable music player was reviewed here on Gadling back in September, and was featured as one of our best travel technology products of 2008.

With the Slacker G2, you can carry personalized radio stations wherever you go, and when you run out of fresh music, you simply connect to a Wi-Fi network for a fresh batch of tunes. The Slacker online radio service even works in your web browser or in the dedicated Slacker desktop player!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us about your favorite traveling song.
  • The comment must be left before Monday November 24th 2008 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One Prize Winner will be randomly selected to receive one free Slacker G2 personal radio player.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The total value of the prize is $199.
  • Click here for the complete official rules of this giveaway

Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008

Welcome to the Gadling top 25 travel technology products of 2008.

It has been a great year for gadget loving travelers, and I have come across some really fantastic products that have helped make my own trips much more enjoyable.

It was not easy keeping the list to just 25 products, and there should be something for everyone in this lineup. So, without any further delay, I present (in no particular order), the 25 best travel technology products of 2008.


Boingo is the only thing listed in the top 25 that isn’t a physical product.

Boingo provides a service that lets you pay a single monthly fee to get access to over 103,000 different Wi-Fi hotspot locations around the world.

For $59 you get their global traveler plan, which offers unlimited access to any of the locations in the Boingo network.

If you have traveled the world, you’ll have probably stayed at one of the many hotels using Wi-Fi as another source of income. Think of Wi-Fi as the new minibar. With daily rates as high as $30, using Boingo makes perfect sense. Business travelers will certainly appreciate the ability to use a single logon and not have to worry about a different expense for each connection they setup on a trip.

Why it matters to travelers: Saves money and makes getting online around the globe much easier.
Price: From $7.95 for a US only PDA plan, $59 for a global plan
Where: Boingo.com
Gadling review: Coming soon.

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

With all of the mobile phones popping up this year, you’d probably expect me to pick the new 3G iPhone as the most travel friendly phone. Sadly for Apple, it’s actually a Blackberry that is still my favorite pick. The Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile has one very important feature that makes it the perfect pick for global travelers; Wi-Fi calling. The technology is called UMA, and it allows the Blackberry to roam onto a Wi-Fi hotspot signal and behave just like it would on a regular cell tower.

You could be in Japan on a Wi-Fi signal in your hotel, and your Blackberry will be able to make and receive phone calls and text messages just like back home. Of course, because you are not roaming on an international network, you can even make these calls for the same rate as a normal call back home, without the insane roaming rates involved.

Why it matters to travelers: Cheap calls, email, Internet browsing and travel applications.
Price: $99.99
Where: T-Mobile.com or any T-Mobile authorized dealer
Gadling review: October 15th 2008

Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Several years ago the big development in wireless technology was the availability of broadband 3G wireless access. If you keep your eyes open next time you are at an airport lounge, you’ll see loads of people working on their laptop with a little antenna sticking out the side of the machine.

To me, the biggest development in wireless data this year, came from the Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot.

The PHS300 turns your 3G modem into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The battery powered device creates a wireless signal ready to use by one person, or an entire conference room. By moving your wireless card out of your laptop, you also save battery life, plus you can move the Cradlepoint router closer to a window to pick up a better wireless signal.

Why it matters to travelers: One modem card can be shared with others, reduces the load on your laptop.
Price: $179.99
Where: www.cradlepoint.com
Gadling review: August 25th 2008

Eye-Fi wireless enabled SD memory card

Nothing in the photography world has made life easier for me than the Eye-Fi wireless memory card. The Eye-Fi card is a regular SD card, with a built in Wireless adapter.

What this means to anyone taking photos is that they can take a photo and within seconds it will be uploaded to their computer or a photo sharing site of their choice (as long as you are in range of a wireless network).

The card was released last year, but 2008 brought several major updates to their lineup including the Eye-Fi Explore. The Explore adds hotspot access to any Wayport locations, as well as basic Geotagging of your photos.

I’ve become so used to offloading my photos using the Eye-Fi card that I actually lost the USB cable of my previous camera.

Why it matters to travelers: Send your photos home before you leave your destination.
Price: From $79.99
Where: www.eye.fi
Gadling review: Coming soon

Panasonic Lumix TZ5

In picking my favorite digital camera for 2008, I went through almost 15 different models. When it comes to a camera that is suitable for travelers I looked for several things; it had to be small enough for traveling light, and it had to offer something invaluable for making decent shots.

I’ll admit right away that I am a horrible photographer, I’ve played with digital SLR cameras, but never managed to quite master the art. Since I’m convinced the same applies to many other traveling consumers, I’ve picked the small Lumix TZ5 for this lineup.

The TZ5 is a 9.1 megapixel camera like many other point and shooters on the market. What makes the TZ5 different is its 10x optical zoom and the ability to shoot basic HD video clips.

Why it matters to trav
10x wide angle optical zoom, HD video clips, special “travel” mode for sorting your photos.
Price: $329.99
Where: www.panasonic.com
Gadling review: coming soon

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Every several years something big happens in the computer world. 3 years ago we saw a big shift from desktop PC purchases to notebooks. 2008 was the big year for the Netbook.

This new generation of ultra portable (and ultra affordable) computers has forced every major manufacturer to bring at least one machine to the market. What started with a single design from Asus has now morphed into about 30 different machines. I’ve tried almost every single one of them, but eventually there was just one clear winner for me; the Lenovo Ideapad S10.

This 10″ Intel Atom powered Netbook is perfect for business travelers as it is available with Bluetooth and it has an Expresscard slot (for expansion cards). The Lenovo S10 has a very sleek design, and incorporates the reliability Lenovo is known for. In my personal opinion, the S10 is also the best looking Netbook of the year.

Why it matters to travelers: Size, looks and performance.
Price: From $399
Where: www.lenovo.com
Gadling review: coming soon

SeV Quantum jacket

When you are on the road a lot, you learn to value the importance of pockets. It sounds pretty quirky, but the combination of travel and carrying too many gadgets means you always need more ways to carry them. The SeV Quantum jacket is a stylish jacket made of breathable material. Hidden away all around this garment are 28 separate pockets, including some large enough to carry a water bottle or even a small laptop!

Almost every pocket is linked to the others using the SeV patented “personal area network” which allows you to route cords inside the jacket. The Quantum even features 2 special pockets with clear plastic which allow you to have easy access to your iPod or mobile phone.

Why it matters to travelers: Pockets, lots and lots of pockets.
Price: $250
Where: www.scottevest.com
Gadling review: September 29th 2008

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

After years of making our lives miserable, the TSA actually used 2008 to help bring some common sense back to the checkpoint. One of their accomplishments was the creation of some better rules for how they treat your laptop. In the past, they were so scared of laptop computers that they wanted every laptop on its own going through the X-Ray conveyor. The new rules allow you to keep it inside an approved bag.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer was one of the first checkpoint friendly bags to ship. The bag is made in the USA and features an ingenious folding laptop portion. The bag is very well made, and is full of great little touches like waterproof zippers.

Why it matters to travelers: Every minute saved at the checkpoint is valuable.
Price: $225
Where: www.tombihn.com
Gadling review: October 7th 2008

Altec-Lansing iM237 Orbit MP3 portable speaker

The Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 speaker is the perfect companion for your iPod, iPhone or other music player.

The speaker works off three AAA batteries and allows you to store the audio cord in the bottom.

The Orbit MP3 produces an amazing amount of sound, and despite its tiny size, you’ll easily be able to fill a decent size hotel room with your tunes.

Why it matters to travelers: Room filling audio from a pint sized speaker.
Price: $39.95
Link: www.alteclansing.com
Gadling review: October 29th 2008

Creative Labs Aurvana headphones

I’ve had the Creative Labs Aurvana X-Fi headphones lined up for a review for some time, but I’ve been using them so often that I never got around to giving you a full review. The Aurvana X-Fi headphones feature the highly rated Creative X-Fi system for improving the sound quality of your digital music as well as a special mode for creating virtual surround sound when you listen to a movie.

The headphones are even $50 cheaper than that “other” brand of popular noise canceling headphones.

The Creative Labs Auravna X-Fi headphones are quite simply the best noise canceling headphones I have ever used. Included in the package is a sturdy carrying case, adapters for most headphone jacks and an extension cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Combines amazing sound quality with amazing noise canceling features.
Price: $249.99
Link: www.creative.com
Gadling review: coming soon

Duracell PowerSource mini battery pack

I like power. Sadly I don’t have much of the influential kind, so I compensate by collecting gadgets that can keep my other gadgets working. The Duracell Portable Power Pack is such a device.

This small rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack features a folding USB connector, a second female USB connector and a battery life indicator. A fully charged Duracell battery pack holds enough juice to recharge most of my gadgets at l
east three times.

Why it matters to travelers: Because a gadget without power can be really depressing.
Price: $39.99
Link: www.duracellpower.com
Gadling review: coming soon

Peek Email device

Back in September we posted the first ever review of this personal email device.

Peek is a handheld wireless emailer which runs off the nationwide T-Mobile network. For $99 (priced at $79.99 till the end of the year) and a monthly service charge of $19.99, you get unlimited access to your email on the go. There is no contract, and no paperwork involved. You simply give Peek a credit card number, and you are all set.

I like Peek because it delivers on its promise; it does email, and only email, but it does that one thing quite well. Peek was recently voted “best gadget of 2008” by Time magazine.

Why it matters to travelers: Provides simple and affordable email on the go for anyone.
Price: $99.95 ($79.99 till December 31st)
Link: www.getpeek.com
Gadling review: August 26th 2008


The Chargepod by Callpod has completely changed the way I charge my gadgets on the road. In the past I had a complicated array of chargers, cables and splitters. The Chargepod powers off one AC adapter, and can power 6 gadgets at the same time.

Chargepod offers an impressive list of power adapter tips for anything from your Bluetooth headset to the latest portable gaming console. I have yet to run into a gadget that can’t be powered off the Chargepod.

Why it matters: One charger instead of 6
Price: $39.95 for the base unit, or $79.99 for the bundle pack with a selection of power tips
Where: www.callpod.com
Gadling review: August 28th 2008

Otterbox cases

As gadget prices go up, so does the disappointment when a gadget breaks. Anyone who is on the road a lot will subject their gadgets to all kinds of abuse.

Otterbox produces a lineup of cases that provide several levels of protection. They vary from basic bump and scratch protection, to full water and shockproof protection.

Otterbox cases are available for all iPods as well as most Blackberry smartphones including the recently released Blackberry Bold.

Why it matters to travelers: Take your gadget to the beach, or up a mountain.
Price: From $19.95
Where: www.otterbox.com
Gadling review: September 10th 2008

Amazon Kindle

It’s almost impossible to list “best gadgets” without mentioning the Amazon Kindle. This electronic book reader launched in November of 2007 and has been one of the top selling electronic devices on Amazon.com ever since.

The Kindle was not the first electronic book on the market, but it does something no other eBook can do; wireless downloads of books.

No longer will you have to jump into the book store at the airport to buy another overpriced book, nor do you need to stock your carry-on with magazines and newspapers.

The Amazon Kindle offers it all, in a slick and easy to use package. The usability is slightly questionable, and the page changing buttons are a nightmare to use, but at the end of the day, nothing beats the ability to download a book right before takeoff. In addition to books, the Kindle also offers wireless access to select newspapers, magazines and RSS feeds.

Why it matters to travelers: Never worry about running out of something to read on the road, reduce the weight of your carry-on.
Price: $359 + the price of your reading materials
Where: www.amazon.com
Gadling review: coming soon

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Product review – Slacker G2 personal radio

Welcome to my review of the Slacker G2 personal radio. The Slacker G2 is the second version of a portable Wi-Fi enabled music player from Slacker. The first part of this review is about the Slacker service itself, if you want to read about their new player, scroll down a bit.

Slacker is available through the web or their desktop player. With Slacker, you get access to over 100 channels of music, as well as the ability to create your own personal music channel, with artists and songs you select. In addition to listening to the Slacker service on your computer, you can also bring your favorite music along with you on the Slacker G2 portable player.

The Slacker G2 player is a Wi-Fi enabled music player that can download 25 or 40 Slacker channels directly to the device, ready for you to listen on the road. The player has 4 or 8GB of storage, depending on the version, which is more than enough for days of music for each channel. Think of it as a portable radio, with nothing but the music you want to listen to.

Once you have selected the music channels you like, using either the desktop or web based Slacker player, you simply let the Slacker G2 connect to a Wi-Fi network. Depending on how fresh the collection is on the device, you’ll have a brand new lineup of songs in about 5 minutes.

On my Slacker G2, I picked 15 Slacker stations, and added 2 of my own custom stations. The predefined Slacker stations are some of the best I’ve come across; they cover everything from the usual 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, to comedy, toddler music and several stations with hits from around the world. Unlike some online stations, where the music is picked by a big computer, Slacker actually employs real DJ’s to help tweak the music lineup, and add the newest performers. In total, Slacker has over 2 million tracks in their collection.

The ability to create a custom radio station is fantastic; you build the new channel by selecting your favorite artists and/or songs; then you let Slacker add more music by fine-tuning the music you want to hear. You can have Slacker add more songs based on popularity of the track, the year and by including DJ picks. The end result is a radio station that plays nothing but the stuff you like. If by any chance you do end up hearing a song you don’t like, you simply ban it, or if it is a track you like a lot, you can set it as a favorite and save it to your library.The Slacker service is free in its most basic version, but to get access to the best features, you’ll have to subscribe to their premium radio service.

Once you subscribe to premium radio, you’ll be able to skip tracks as many times as you want (this is limited to 6 times per hour/per channel on the basic player). The premium version also removes the commercials and adds the ability to request an unlimited amount of songs to your custom radio stations. And finally; the premium version also allows you to save songs you hear on a radio channel to your Slacker library.

The Slacker premium radio service costs $7.50/month on an annual subscription, $8.33/month with a 6 month subscription or $9.99/month with a 3 month commitment. Each option comes with a free 7 day trial.

The Slacker G2 hardware

Included in the Slacker G2 box is of course the player itself, as well as a pair of premium noise isolating headphones with 3 sizes of ear pieces. Also in the box is a quick start guide, Slacker sticker, USB charger, a Mini-USB charging/sync cable and a rubber case with belt clip. All the parts are pretty high quality, and come with some nice little touches, like a Slacker logo on the USB cable.

The player looks quite stunning; the front is made of glossy plastic, so it’ll of course become a fingerprint magnet. The sides are made of rubberized plastic, and the back is made of metal, with a raised Slacker logo.

The player has a 2.5 inch (240×320) color display, which takes up most of the front of the unit. Above the screen are the ban and favorite buttons, and below the screen you’ll find the play/pause/power, skip and rewind buttons. I have to point out that you can not go back to a previous track if your are listening to one of the Slacker music channels, the back button only works with music coming from your saved library (this is a licensing issue).

On the top of the player is the volume control and the headphone jack. On the left is the mini-USB connector, and on the right is the scrollwheel, home button and a hold switch, for locking the buttons.

On the bottom of the Slacker G2 is a wide connector, not unlike that found on some other music players. The connector is for adding accessories which may be added in the future. I know what you are thinking, and no; it is not compatible with iPod accessories.

The portable player is always in perfect sync with the desktop and web players; if you add a new station, you can send it to the portable player, and the next time you connect, you’ll receive it on your device. The same method works the other way around; if you are listening to a song on the train and press the favorite button, that song will appear in your desktop library next time you connect.

Another advantage of Wi-Fi syncing, is that Slacker pushes new firmware updates using the wireless connection, unlike other players where you have to connect the player to your PC and download an update file.

The player can be connected to your computer using the included USB cable, but that is only necessary for adding your own music which can be done with the Slacker desktop player, or with Windows Media Player.

The desktop player is only available for PC’s. Mac users can of course still use the web player to select music and add music stations to their player.

The user interface on the Slacker G2 is nice and clean; there are no 5 levels of confusing menu’s, nor does the device offer anything other than music; there are no games, no personal organizer and no video support. As soon as you turn the player on, you are in the main play screen; this screen displays the album art of the selected song, as well as the artist name, album and next artist in the current channel.

By scrolling down, you can select any of these items; selecting the album art displays any available information about the album including reviews and the release date.

Selecting the album name shows a list of the 4 previous songs, and allows you to go back and either ban or favorite/save that song. Selecting the artist name displays an artist biography provided by All Music Guide. These bio’s can be pretty long for some of the more popular artists. Scrolling down below the current song information pulls up the Slacker menu, where you can select stations, the library, user playlists, the settings menu and the connect screen.

In the settings menu, you’ll find the usual portable player stuff like the backlight timer, brightness, volume normalization and an equalizer with 10 presets.

Slacker / Devicescape

Slacker have teamed up with Devicescape to bring a Wi-Fi hotspot login service to the player. Since the Slacker G2 does not come with a full keyboard or web browser, many wireless hotspots would normally be inaccessible to the device. The Devicescape client bypasses the entire login process, and does all the work for you. Devicescape is currently compatible with hotspots from Wayport and AT&T. With this support, you’ll be able
to wirelessly sync the Slacker G2 player at your local McDonalds, Starbucks or other Wayport or AT&T hotspot location.

Pricing and availability

The Slacker G2 costs $199 for the 25 station/4GB version, and $249 for the 40 station/8GB version. You’ll be able to find it at Slacker.com, Amazon.com and Buy.com and it will be on shelves at your local Best Buy later this month. When you order a player directly from Slacker, you’ll be able to provide them with an existing Slacker account name, and you’ll receive the player personalized for use, preloaded with stations from your own Slacker account!

Slacker for travelers

Since many of you are frequent travelers, I’ll list some of the reasons I think the Slacker G2 is a perfect choice for you:

  • No need to carry a laptop to update the player – to refresh the music on your Slacker G2, you simply connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • 15 hours of music playback – enough for a longhaul flight
  • Player charges using a regular mini-USB charger – same charger used for many mobile phones
  • No need to install software on your laptop – you can add new music and channels to the player and listen to that same music directly through your browser.
  • All music provided by the service is legal – no worries if you use it on your corporate laptop!
  • Player comes with premium noise isolating headphones

Final thoughts

It is hard to describe how impressed I am with the Slacker G2 without coming across as an idiot. The player and accompanying service have totally changed the way I think of collecting music. With my iPod, I had gathered thousands of songs, put together from CD rips of my own collection, purchased tracks and “other sources”. This entire collection has now been replaced by Slacker.

Their service streams all the music I like, directly to my desktop (or web browser), and I can take any of that music with me. The few songs I like that Slacker did not have in their collection can still be synced to the player using any MP3, WMA and AAC file I already own.

In addition to not having to own any music, I can also get instant access to any new music, plus I no longer have to waste hours sorting my songs and correcting file names, tags and album art.

At $199 (or $249), the player is more expensive than most other players in the market, but knowing that I’ll never have to buy another CD again makes it worthwhile. There are other players on the market with a similar “all you can eat” format (like the Microsoft Zune and Zune Pass), but at $7.50/month, the Slacker service is cheaper and offers more features. The $90 for an annual subscription is what I used to pay every month for new CD’s.

The Microsoft Zune is probably the only player worthy of being compared to the Slacker G2; it also offers Wi-Fi (though no wireless syncing outside the house until the upcoming firmware update). The differences between the Slacker G2 and the Zune are the price of the monthly service ($14.99 for Zune Pass), and that Slacker offers a far more integrated service (web, desktop, portable player). Slacker also builds their offering more around their music channels and custom channels, instead of just asking you to pick random music.

I’m no audiophile, but I found that the sound quality of the music on the Slacker G2 was much better than any other player I have owned in the past. Slacker clearly put some effort into the quality of the files they use, and the audio hardware in the device.

The device has a few quirks; when it is being charged, it always turns on, and stays on until it is done charging, and the desktop Slacker player can be a little finicky when you try and sync to the player over USB.

Of course, coming from an iPod will also mean no easy access to the thousands of accessories designed just for that player, I’m hopeful that companies will start designing products around the Slacker G2 pretty soon.

All in all, I can only say that this is my new portable music player. I haven’t touched my iPod since I got my hands on the Slacker G2, and in the time I have been using the device, I have come across 100’s of great new songs I had not heard before, and about as many songs I had forgotten about, and never managed to add to my collection.

If you like music, and would love to find new artists, I can highly recommend visiting Slacker and playing around with their web player, before you know it, you’ll be dying to take that music on the road with you, on your own Slacker G2 player.