Our favorite web sites for music are Pandora.com and Slacker.com. Both let you create an Internet radio station that delivers your favorite style of music.

There are some differences between the two. Slacker pridefully points out that it uses over 100 human deejays to help find stations that fit a user’s interests, whereas Pandora just uses a programming algorithm. Despite all those human agents at Slacker, we felt that Pandora’s algorithm sometimes did a better job. Joy is a big fan of ragtime, for example, especially Scott Joplin. Typing “Scott Joplin” into the create-a-station area of Pandora, she got hours of his music with no repeats. But Slacker played the popular “Maple Leaf Rag,” “The Entertainer,” and “Pineapple Rag,” over and over. When she clicked to create a Puccini radio station, Pandora immediately began playing Puccini. But Slacker started delivering pop tunes, and no Puccini.

Bob suspects that Slacker.com uses fairly young people to make the selections and they probably never heard of Puccini. It reminded him of his experience at a large record store when he asked a young clerk if they had any Cole Porter albums. “Is that a new group,” the clerk said.

Slacker recently entered the hardware side of the business with a player called the “G2.” It’s a handheld player that comes with lots of music from the stations you selected online. When you want new music, it’s supposed to connect wirelessly to the Internet.

We had a couple of problems with the G2. The first one was when we lifted the rubber flap over the volume control, thinking it might hide the recharging port. The flap never did fit back on and that was the end of the volume control. The other problem was the G2 didn’t always connect to the Internet as promised. However, you can skip it and get Slacker radio, but not Pandora, on your iPhone, iPod Touch or Blackberry.


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