Apple's dropping of DRM in iTunes means full freedom of choice for music fans to do what they wish with their MP3s. But SanDisk's newest SlotRadio device just doesn't work like that: It comes pre-loaded with 1,000 songs...which you can't delete or move off the special microSD memory card.
And that's just bizarre. Sure, the whole device costs just $99, and it's got a 1.5-inch OLED screen, built-in FM tuner and looks fairly pocketable. And you can buy more memory cards, each with another kilosong aboard and chosen from specific genres for just $39.99. So each track is just 4 cents, which makes it sound attractive indeed, given that iTunes will charge a minimum 69 cents.
But 1,000 songs is just going to be a pain. The odds are pretty high you'll not want to listen to a high percentage of the music, but you'll have to use those fiddly little controls on the device to navigate through the selection to ones you want to listen to. And since you can't remove them, or pull the tracks off the card onto a PC, you're just stuck with that.
It's not even clear that the player can cope with non SlotRadio cards: and even if it did, there are plenty of similar cheaper devices around that actually let you choose your own music from the get-go.
This odd MP3 machine is due early 2009.