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Slacker Radio

*Est. $4 and up; free version available
Reviewed by ConsumerSearch
Slacker Radio

Best radio-format streaming music

Pros
  • Unlimited free radio-style listening
  • ABC News and ESPN Radio stations
  • DJ-curated music radio stations
  • Free device support
  • On-demand listening for Premium subscribers
  • Easy-to-use interface
Cons
  • Not as many songs as Spotify or MOG
  • Average sound quality
  • Limited social options
  • Limited song skipping in free version

Slacker Radio wins over critics by combining strong radio-style streaming music chops with a large catalog of songs playable on demand -- the only streaming music service to mix the two genres so capably. Slacker started as a radio-style service, and experts say it shows; there are over 150 DJ-curated music stations featuring all types of music, as well as offerings from The Weather Channel, ABC News and ESPN radio. All of the music stations can be streamed to your heart's content thanks to Slacker's free, ad-supported unlimited listening plan. Anybody, even free users, can stream music through Slacker's various supported devices as well, a rarity in the industry. Reviewers say the service's slick interface makes navigation a breeze both in-browser and on Slacker's mobile apps. A $5 Slacker Plus subscription ditches the ads and song-skip limits found in the free version, while the $10 Slacker Premium tier opens up the service's music catalog for unlimited on-demand listening.

All that functionality comes with a trade-off, however; Slacker Radio's 10 million song catalog is very large, but not quite as big as the catalogs of the major on-demand streaming music services. Additionally, Slacker's audio quality is just average at 128 kbps, and its social sharing options are bare-bones. If you don't want the radio stations, experts say MOG (*Est. $5 and up; free version available) offers a bigger catalog of better-sounding tunes, although its free version is much more limited than Slacker's.

PCMag.com's stand-alone review of Slacker Radio does a terrific job of covering the details of the service in depth. CNET, Laptop Magazine, VikiTech.com and ReadWriteWeb.com look at Slacker as part of larger streaming music service roundups. Meanwhile, About.com covers Slacker both alone and as part of a list of the best streaming music sites, where the service takes top honors. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

Jeffrey Wilson likes every aspect of Slacker Radio, showering it with a 4.5 (out of 5) rating and an Editors' Choice award. The interface, sound quality and deep catalog are all singled out for praise; the on-demand listening option for Premium subscribers "improves upon an already excellent streaming music foundation," he writes.

Review: Slacker Radio (2011), Jeffrey Wilson, May 17, 2011

2. CNET

Karyne Levy doesn't dedicate much space to Slacker, but she says that the slick (and free) mobile apps work well, and she likes that ESPN Radio stations are included for Premium subscribers. She worries that the audio quality and song selection isn't up to par with Slacker's competitors, though.

Review: Which Music Service Should You Use?, Karyne Levy, Nov. 18, 2011

3. Laptop Magazine

Slacker Radio nabs the second-best rating of all the streaming music services reviewed by Laptop Magazine. The wide device support and slick mobile apps are particularly noteworthy, Mike Kobrin says, as is the overall package. "Slacker Radio Plus is excellent for the price," he writes.

Review: Slacker Radio Plus Review, Mike Kobrin, Feb. 4, 2011

4. About.com

Slacker Radio is named the best streaming music service by About.com. The mixture of a slick interface, a wide selection of DJ-curated radio stations, on-demand capabilities and comprehensive mobile app support earns the service kudos. Mark Harris wishes there was a rewind or replay option for radio listening, however. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)

Review: Slacker Radio Review: An Interactive Online Radio Service, Mark Harris

5. ReadWriteWeb.com

Sarah Perez compares Slacker Radio's Premium subscription against subscription plans from MOG and Rdio, who she thinks are greater competitors of Slacker than Pandora. She says Slacker doesn't offer quite as many tunes or social features as MOG and Rdio, but the combination of excellent radio-style stations and on-demand listening could be a big draw to some people.

Review: Slacker vs. Rdio vs. MOG: Which Streaming Music Service Is Worth Your $10/Month?, Sarah Perez, May 17, 2011

6. VikiTech.com

This roundup of streaming music services is light on details and rife with spelling and grammar errors, but the editors touch on the positives and negatives of each service. They like Slacker Radio's unlimited free listening, and appreciate that its ads aren't as frequent as the ads on other services. "Slacker is probably my favorite internet radio service if only because of its innovative mobile app," the editor writes.

Review: The Complete Guide to Listening Unlimited Free Music Online, Editors of VikiTech.com

Streaming Music Services Runners Up:

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10 picks including: About.com, CNET…

Pandora $36 per year; free version available

5 picks including: About.com, Engadget.com…

Rhapsody *Est. $10 per month and up

4 picks including: Engadget.com, CNET…

Grooveshark $6 per month and up; free version available

3 picks including: PCMag.com, Lifehacker.com…

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