Remember the mysterious San Diego startup called Broadband Instruments, which pulled executives from Diamond / Rio, MusicMatch, and iRiver, and promised "a new type of integration with online radio stations"? Well, that company now has a product and a plan: Slacker will provide a internet radio network that won't just reach you via browser, but will also stream to a Slacker portable by way of WiFi and -- get this -- satellite service. (On the Ku-band, if you're really interested.) It's all a little complicated, but it'll go something like this: at launch (i.e. now) users will be able to get Pandora-like streaming internet radio for free (the caveat is you only get to skip six songs per channel per hour), with a $7.50 per month plan around the corner that kills the ads and skipping limitations. The Slacker player, which will feature a massive 4-inch screen with scrolling touch strip and debut this summer in varying capacities between 2, 4, and 8GB up to 120GB for between $150 and $350, will have track metadata via AMG, and gobbles up and plays back audio content via WiFi and USB (with tracks purchasable for $1). The satellite part comes into play with a docking station at home or in the car, so you can get Slacker content while on the move or if you're out of range of internet access. Sounds a lot like the WiFi iTunes experience people have been asking for since, well, forever, but definitely with an internet radio bend to it. What we're really dying to know, however, is whether this satellite radio service of theirs will provide enough competition in the market to help the Sirius and XM merger get its wheels greased.

[Via Mashable and Wired]

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Slacker: music device and service via web, WiFi, and satellite