January 7, 2011 at 10:43 am

CES 2011: Slacker Unveils iPad App, Better-Sounding Verizon 4G LTE App

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — The Slacker interactive radio service is showing off a slew of new stuff at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, including a customized version of the app for the iPad, Nokia phones, and the high-speed-data Verizon 4G LTE phone, whose high bandwidth allows Slacker to download a complete song to the device in about a second, at a higher sound quality than is possible with a 3G phone.

First, let’s talk about the iPad app. As with other iPad-customized apps, Slacker Radio for iPad makes good use of the large amount of screen space available on the device, allowing the user to read artist bios and album reviews, and view high-resolution artist images and album art.

However, Slacker for iPad does not yet support Apple AirPlay, which is a shame, because the iPad is really more of a home listening device, and AirPlay compatibility would allow the Slacker service to play wirelessly on a variety of speakers and sound systems within the house. However, Sasse told Evolver.fm,  Slacker could add that feature in the future.

Slacker also showed off its Premium Radio service, which goes beyond the free Pandora-like version by allowing you to download any song or playlist on-demand, in the style of MOG or Rhapsody. Slacker has an big advantage in this area over MOG, Rhapsody and other services, according to Slacker vice president of marketing Jonathan Sasse, because it already has lots of radio station programmers on staff, whose taste is now reflected in the on-demand portion of the service. Long story short: Slacker Premium Radio has lots of humans to recommend what you should download next, and will be available on all Slacker apps across the various platforms.

Slacker also announced a Nokia Ovi app this year, but we were more excited by its Verizon 4G LTE app. Unlike MOG, Slacker’s app will not be bundled on all Verizon 4G LTE phones, although Sasse said it would come pre-loaded on some of them. The high data connection lets Slacker stream to the phones at 128 Kbps (MOG goes up to 320 Kbps, possibly to the detriment of your monthly data limit), offering better sound quality than the service enjoys on other platforms. In addition, Verizon’s faster data connection allows for higher-resolution album art: 700×700.

Last but not least, Slacker announced that it is now available in Canada, where its main competitor, Pandora, is not.