We see hundreds of MP3 players come through CNET that attempt to dethrone the industry-leading iPod by integrating a suite of sophisticated features into a humble case. We have to hand it to the $129 Venzero Slickr for attempting the opposite approach: a product with a rich design, but no features to write home about.
There's no denying the Slickr's stunning design. Its iPhone-esque aesthetic, uncluttered screen, and metallic trim are absolutely drool-worthy. A designer with refined taste must have selected the silky, matte-black, rubberized finish on the player's back and sides, for instance. Otherwise, however, the Slickr is behind the times. Venzero's disconnect between form and function makes the Slickr feel like a Lamborghini running on a Ford Festiva's engine. But we'll get to that later.
The Venzero Slickr measures 3.25-inches wide by 2.25-inches tall by 0.33-inch deep. Its color TFT, QVGA display measures 2.8 inches diagonally, taking up the majority of the Slickr's face. The screen is capable of displaying 1.6 million colors at a resolution of 320x240, and it does a fine job presenting crisp, rich photos.
Venzero's choice to leave navigation controls off the front of the Slickr makes it an elegant video playback device and helps thwart fingerprint smudges. Unfortunately, there's a price to pay for beauty. Unlike the iRiver Clix, one of the first players to successfully remove navigation by using a unique touch-control, and products such as the Cowon D2 and the iPhone, which use touch screens, the Slickr simply crams all its navigation controls into a series of small, black, virtually indistinguishable buttons along the top of the device. Granted, each button is embossed with an icon that denotes its function, but you will need to be skilled in Braille if you want to operate the Slickr in a dark room.
On the bright side, we do appreciate the Slickr's use of a standard mini-USB port (instead of some proprietary cable nonsense), and the inclusion of an expandable SD flash-memory slot is fantastic. Take note, however, that the Slickr uses the less-common miniSD card instead of standard SD or microSD. With the Slickr's built-in 2GB of memory and a miniSD card (up to 4GB), it's possible to bring the total memory of the device up to a respectable 6GB.
While the Slickr's design borrows a page from Apple, its features run more in line with a budget Coby player. Video, music, radio, photos, voice/line recording, a game of Tetris, a unique service called MusicMarker, and a text reader, round out the Slickr's seemingly versatile list of features. Once you scratch the surface, however, it becomes apparent that many of the features are still living in the media player dark ages.