In a move that most technophiles consider too slow to the game, SanDisk has started working with all four major music labels to release a new music medium where albums are distributed on microSD cards. Called slotMusic, the new format offers artists a CD-like model for distributing songs, album art, liner notes, and videos on one tiny package. The aim behind SanDisk's idea is to ease the transition from CD to MP3 for those who have been hesitant to go digital. To that end, the company has released the $20 Sansa slotMusic Player, an extremely basic device that works much like the original Walkman or the more recent Discman. The music media is strictly removable, songs play in album order, the battery is alkaline, and no computer is required to use it--but the player is much smaller and music playback requires no moving parts.
Using the Sansa slotMusic Player could not be easier. Simply pop a slotMusic card into the microSD slot on the left edge of the unit, plug the included headphones into the standard jack on the right edge, and hit play. You can pause playback and skip through tracks using buttons on the bottom of the device, and, of course, there are volume controls (by the headphone jack), but that about sums up the player's capabilities. There's no shuffle or repeat mode, and no FM tuner or any other extra features. Fortunately, it does include an autoresume feature, which picks up where you left off in the song that was playing when you powered off. The player also supports high-capacity microSD cards--currently offered at up to 16GB--though we can't imagine listening to that much music with no screen or shuffle mode.