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SanDisk partners with Yahoo to offer a true on-the-go music service

Why connect your MP3 player to your computer to get new music when you can do it wirelessly? That's what SanDisk and Yahoo intend to convince you to do with this new cord-free on-the-go music service and player.

Yep, that's right: Yahoo Music Unlimited To Go is available completely sans wires for Sansa Connect owners. That means you never have to connect your player to refresh your music selection, and that is pretty freakin' sweet. And unlike with the Zune, the music you receive wirelessly does not have to come from another (scarce) Zune user, nor does it expire after three plays. Of course, the Sansa isn't exactly alone in this regard: the recently announced Slacker Portable Player and accompanying Web service will offer a similar experience--and at half the price (YMU To Go is $14.99 per month; Slacker's premium service will be $7.50 per month). However, the Sansa Connect is available now, and it must be said that the music experience is a bit different with the Connect.

Both the Slacker player and the Sansa Connect communicate wirelessly with their respective services, but only with the Connect can you select the individual songs that you want to hear. The Slacker service is limited to preprogrammed radio stations--although admittedly, these stations are quite good and require minmal effort on your part. The Connect also lets you access some Internet radio; namely, LAUNCHcast channels offered by Yahoo. The good thing about this is that several of the stations are available for free--albeit with built-in audio ads--so nonsubscribers can take advantage of some music discovery. Personally, I prefer Slacker's rotations to those I've heard on Yahoo, but it's all a matter of taste.

In any case, all of this wireless fun is far from perfect. You can't charge the Connect wirelessly, so you'll have to connect it to your computer at some point anyway. Plus, it can't communicate with your PC wirelessly, so if you have your own MP3s and other audio, you'll still need to sync the old-fashioned way from time to time. And unlike the Slacker player, which will also use satellite technology to update its stations, the Connect has to be within range of an open Wi-Fi connection in order to hop on and collect new music. But even with all those limitations, there's no denying that SanDisk is heading in the right direction. For more information on the design and other features, check out our Sansa Connect preview.