Slacker for BlackBerry Hands-on Impressions

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There are times in life when you anticipate something for so long and it fails to deliver. On the other hand, there are times when things turn out to be more than you expected. I have been using Slacker.com, the personal internet radio, on my computer for the last few months, ever since the BlackBerry application was announced at CTIA this past fall. At CES, after months of anticipation, Slacker launched their BlackBerry application for devices with OS 4.3 and above (4.5+ is best). In short, it is magnificent.


Slacker’s BlackBerry application has two levels: a free version with commercials from time to time and a limit of six song-skips per hour (which is plenty, especially if you make your own station) and a premium version. The premium version provides for unlimited skips, no audio or banner ads, and unlimited song requests for $3.99 a month.

To download the free Slacker application, simply point your BlackBerry browser to http://www.slacker.com. Once the application is downloaded, it will ask you if you have a user name and password. Creating your own station at Slacker.com is the best way to get the right music for you. I created my own station, which is mainly comprised of bands from the 90’s with some music from today. When I log in, I am able to pick that same station that I’ve created on my computer. If you are in the mood for a different type of music, you can create additional radio stations and then choose from any of them, both on the web and on your BlackBerry.

An exclusive feature reserved for the BlackBerry is station caching. Station caching allows you to store 100 songs per station, up to 10 stations, on your device for those times where you have no service, such as airplanes, or if you want to minimize battery impact. The station caching requires a memory card with at least 500mb of space. Caching a station is a snap. Simply fire up the application on your device, select the station, select Cache Highlighted Station, wait for the application to sign you in, plug your device into your PC, turn on Mass Storage mode, then on your PC, select the option that says “Sync Slacker Stations.” The Slacker station loader will start and it will add 100 songs per station that you select. Once you have completed the caching, you no longer need to have data service to play these songs. Check out the video below and screenshots in the gallery to see how easy it is to cache your stations.

Once you are in the application and you’ve picked the station you’d like to rock out, you are able to Play/Pause, Skip, Favorite (play this song more often), and Block (won’t play the song again) the song. Additionally, you can check out each artist’s bio to find out more about the band, get an album review, and even ban the artist.

Overall, I love Slacker. The use of cover art, the excellent audio quality, and the usability of the application (especially the station caching), makes Slacker one of my favorite applications on the BlackBerry. There are some additional features that I would like to see in future releases. Being able to edit bands and songs in custom stations, permission to cache more than 100 songs, creating new custom stations, and adding social media sharing of stations, such as being able to post the station link to twitter, facebook, and delicious would really enhance the experience, as well as make it easier to share your stations with your friends. To be fair, they do have an “Add to MySpace” button available. For those of you using Slacker, what would you add to make it an even more amazing experience? If you’re curious, you can check out my personal station.

Have any questions about the Slacker BlackBerry application? Drop us a line in the comments and we’ll help you get it sorted out.

  • Midwestbowl
    answering old question from Nancy in case someone else searching as I was. Eventually accidentally stumbled on option trying to stay awake at work at 4AM. Of course, turns out that to shut down Slacker all you do is hit the menu button and scroll down to shut down... It's a fantastic feature that it keeps playing otherwise!
  • Nancy
    While playing Slacker on my Blackberry, how do you turn it off? I can get to other applications, but the song still plays.
  • Nancy
    While playing Slacker on my Blackberry, how do you turn it off? I can get to other applications, but the song still plays.
  • Dan
    Anyone have problems getting the app to work with BB-8900? set up acct but login always fails
  • Lissy
    NM I figured it out
  • Lissy
    I can't figure out how to shut it off. When I use the "back" button, which usually ends whatever task I was doing, the slacker still plays
  • CD
    The slacker.synclauncher.exe is on your Blackberry.
    When connected to a Windows PC via USB, the Blackberry provides two disk volumes to Windows. One is the internal memory, one is the Media Card.

    I go to drive "S:\" and double-click slacker.synclauncher.exe

    The first time, this transfers a lot of data, 100 songs per cached station. Mine is over a Gig with 12 stations cached.

    After that, a sync only changes some of the cached songs, so it doesn't take anywhere near as long.
  • Michael
    I miss be missing something. In the "caching" instructions above it says "then on your PC, select the option that says “Sync Slacker Stations.” This application is installed on my Blackberry not my pc. Therefore there is no options on my PC related to Slacker Radio for caching or anything else. Am I missing something??
  • ed
    Slacker used to crash my curve all the time. Their updates tend be more and mores table. They have now released a 2.0 version in the last few days which has not crashed my curve yet. Make sure you are running the latest.
  • Ana
    I downloaded slacker on my Blackberry Curve 8330 and it will make it turn off from time to time. This is happening to my husband's blackberry as well. What could it be. It just freezes and reboots the phone.

    Any suggestions, I really like the Slacker!!!!

    Ana
  • CD
    I changed my mind about the speed of the caching.
    I checked it again, and it is coming in at 143KBpS on my 1.5Mbps DSL line.
    That's ~full speed.
    The cached data is 960MB on my 4GB SD card.

    I love this product on my Blackberry Bold.
  • CD
    I love the caching, although even the online GPRS (no 3G here) play is better reception than normal radio in my area.

    I plug my Bold into an "aux adapter" from Logjam Electronics that I originally used for a Sony NetMD and then iPod, for use in my car.

    My music goes mute, and I can hear a little tiny ring tone from the Bold on incoming calls. Lack of music is really my cue. I can answer the call on a BT headset, but I haven't figured out how to answer if I don't have my headset on. When I hang up the call, the music is unmuted.

    The online caching update is dog slow, though. It took 133 minutes to cache seven stations. uncache doesn't work, as nearly as I can tell. You have to "reset account" and start over, so the 133 minutes was for a full load.

    700 songs on my Berry. That's more than I need to listen to over a period of a month or so, and the refresh is fresh, not the two year old songs on my ipod collection.

    This is nearly perfect.
    I signed up for the subscription,even though I had no issues at all with the free version. I want to pay them, so they stay in business. This beats sat radio hands down. The sat radio cuts out in the mountains around here.

    Oddly enough, the only radio station that comes in around here is KCBS news, so that fills the one lack in cached Slacker for me.

    --
    Clarence A Dold - Hidden Valley Lake, CA, USA GPS: 38.8,-122.5
  • Bob Bellin
    It locks up on my 8330 (curve) and also caused e-mail conflicts. Once I removed it everything was fine. It may work better on the Bold and Storm, but Sprint store tech said that she has heard anecdotally that it's buggy.
  • Richard G.
    I recently got the BB 8350i and I constantly get a white screen when trying to boot up. I believe this is an issue with the app though, as others have reported the same issue in Crackberry's forums as well.
  • dan smith
    Please change the strapline from anywher to 'only in the US' to reflect the unfortunate facts for you international visitors
  • Nan Palmero
    @Ron K if the issue persists, try hitting up the Slacker Forums, their tech gurus are very attentive - http://forums.slacker.com/slacker-blackberry-ap...
  • Ron K.
    Thanks for the reply back. I will reboot my device & it should do the trick hopefully. If there is anything else I need to know more regarding the un-caching on free space, I'm all ears. Have a good day!
  • Nan Palmero
    @phreqd glad you like it, station streaming works really well and is BlackBerry exclusive. ;)

    @jawman I'll be getting my Storm soon. As soon as I do, I'll try to get that sorted out. Thanks for the heads up! I'll likely check in with the forums at http://forums.slacker.com

    @greg a I'm so glad we're in agreement, an equalizer is a brilliant idea, too!

    @Sam Bradley Hey Sam! Isn't the caching amazing? It is especially helpful for you, since there is only 1X coverage in that part of TX. The caching is also supposed to be quite conservative with the battery. Try it and let me know your findings, please.

    @Northern Slacker Wannabe I'm with you and I'm very sorry. If you want to listen to Slacker on your computer, at least, do a Google search for HotSpot Shield. ;)

    @Ron K If you decide to uncache a station, it should free up more space on your memory card. Try it and then do a reboot on your device to see if it clears. It should. Thanks!
  • Ron K.
    If you decide to un-caching/removing a station from your memory card, does your memory card free up more space or does the space stay the same? I'm just curious because when I do this option, my "free up space" does not increase. I like to hear your thoughts. Thanks!


    Ron K.

    www.myspace.com/ronk73
  • Nan Palmero
    @nobody great info overall, thank you!

    @phreqd glad you like Slacker for Blackberry as much as I do, you'll love the station caching, it really takes Slacker to a whole new level.
  • Northern Slacker Wannabe
    Downloaded the program and installed it, got as far as "buffering" before I realized something was wrong. After doing a bit of digging around online I found out that Slacker is not licensed to broadcast in Canada... such bull. Guess I won't be able to use this new App until they cut away the months or potentially years of red tape.

    The politics behind issues like this piss me off sometimes :(
  • Sam Bradley
    Nan -- Cool stuff. 100 song cache seems crazy. Blows my mind that it is cool with DMCA, but it must be.

    To be honest, I never listen to music on my Curve. I'm a bit battery paranoid. However, you may have pushed me to try it!
  • greg a
    Slacker Radio is great and the best I've used. The quality is excellent. I plug my BB direct into my car and it sounds awesome.
    In my view the one thing desperately needed is an equilizer.
    A nice to have would be to hook into the main menu,
    like the BB "Now playing" entry to jump right to slacker from any app.
  • Jawman
    It works on the Storm with the link from Shaeflan. (thanks)

    Only one problem with the Storm. (maybe others?)
    I can't get it to play from the speaker. It defaults to the internal speaker, and I have no way to switch that to the external speaker.

    Any one have some suggestions for me to try?

    Thanks
  • Phreqd
    Works very well on my Bold. I haven't tried caching stations, but just free play with already made up stations works fantastic. I'll have to take note to see how it's affecting my battery so I might end up caching afterall. A winner of a program and I'm normally not a station streamer.
  • Nobody
    Running low on system memory wouldnt cause a device shutdown or reset. It would cause all of your e-mail/test/call logs to be deleted.

    On your device, go to Options - Status. Look at "File Free". it is in bytes, so drop 6 digits from the end. if the number is more than 6 you should be good.
  • Nan Palmero
    @brayndeded sounds like you might be running out of system memory. Since the 8830 has less memory (64mb or so) you might considered deleting apps, photos and other items on your device. Additionally, consider caching stations for a better experience.
  • brayndeded
    I just upgraded to 4.5 on my 8830 a few weeks ago and slacker was the main reason i did it. I was so excited to get it, but now Im frustrated with it cuz it will play a few songs, then just stop, and sometimes just shut down and even reboot my 8830. Anyone have any help on this? When I signed up, I checked 'yes' for allowing slacker access and all that.
  • Ron K.
    The Slacker application is awesome! I have a Blackberry Curve 8330, OS 4.5 and it works great. The wait was definitely worth it and I have not had any problems since I downloaded the app. In my opinion, Slacker easily beats out Flycast, Nobex, & Pandora by far. Thank you Slacker Radio & keep up the great work!... =)


    www.myspace.com/ronk73
  • Carly
    8120 on 4.5. If I'm using slacker for an uncached station my phone goes to voicemail. No ringing, no motifications of VM, email etc. Anyone else have this problem?
  • Nan Palmero
    @trafsta I believe that it is a music licensing issue not Slacker. I'm sorry you can't have it yet.

    @rayg ah speed, it is like never having enough money or never being too good looking. I wouldn't mind a speed boost myself.

    @ed might you consider removing some apps that you don't use on your Curve? It might feel a bit better.

    @jarbro @Martin the easiest thing to do is make the custom stations on your computer, then when you login on your BlackBerry, they should all be there.

    @jandyf I am running on a BES and mine works as does our CEO. I believe it is a BES settings issue, not BES all together. Slacker forums is very helpful and should be able to help you get it sorted out. I'm sorry for your difficulties, I'd be frustrated too.
  • Martin
    On a Curve the thing is almost unusable. The performance is dog slow and seems to tie up the whole device.
    I removed it figuring its probably designed for a Bold....
  • jandyf
    Big problem though.... It doesn't work with BES see http://forums.slacker.com/curve-8310-login-fail...
  • jarbro
    Are you able to add more than one custom station on the free version? I know I can't seem to.
  • ed
    Slow? Yes but also bugged up. It crashes my curve often. Still I think its great when it works. I never bothered with radio streams until slacker came out with their caching feature. I have deleted all my mp3 files from my media card to make room for stations.
  • RayG
    Slacker for "Best App ever"! Well, that might be a stretch, but pretty dern close.
    My one major suggestion would be to try and speed up response time. When working with the menus, things seem to crawl so the cursor flies about a bit. This also makes for a slow shutdown as well. The process of "Shutting Down Slacker" takes at least 30 seconds or more.
  • trafsta
    This thing doesn't work in Canada yet, correct? I figure that's why mine just sits on "Buffering" on my Rogers Bold... and why it isn't available on my wifes iPhone 3G (cannot be found in the App Store at all).

    Any ideas when us Canadian's might get to use it? I also hope there are Canadian stations on it as well...
  • shaeflan
    Use the following link to install on the Storm.

    http://www.slacker.com/dwls/bb/slacker_mobile.jad

    The interface isn't yet optimized for the screen real estate on the Storm but it is fully functional.
  • Marin
    Arg. No Storm support yet.
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