Review: SLIMP3

What the SLIMP3 does is play the MP3s that reside on your Mac anywhere (August 5th, 2003)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Slim Devices

Price: $239

The Good

  • Quick setup, great features, easy-to-read screen

The Bad

  • None

I must admit that when I received my SLIMP3 from Slim Devices I wasn't all that clear on what the SLIMP3 was. I thought the SLIMP3 was a way to play your MP3s (or AACs) from your Mac using OS X -- a cool little box that controlled your iTunes remotely and play songs through your speakers. My vision and the device's reality were more than a bit apart, to say the least.

The SLIMP3 (pronounced "slim-p-3") Network Music Player is, as their web site describes, "[a] revolutionary approach to digital music playback." While that sounds like Click to enlargesome marketing hype, the SLIMP3 has quickly become my favorite gadget in the house. (When summer re-runs are over, I'm sure my Tivo will regain first place, but that's another discussion.) What the SLIMP3 allows you to do is play the MP3s that reside on your Mac (or Linux or Windows, if you're so inclined) anywhere in your house or office. Still not wowed? Read on.

Setup is easy

Download and install the server software from the web site. (It's free so you can download it here now to try it out.) What you are installing is not a component for iTunes, but rather an application that not only tells the SLIMP3 box where your MP3 collection resides, but also streams the music, allows on the fly playlist creation, alarm clock functionality, and full web-access, just to name a few features. Next, take a look at the SLIMP3 itself: The unit has three connections in the back: Power, Ethernet, and RCA outputs (left and right). Plug in the power cable, plug in the Ethernet so it's connected to your home network, and finally, plug the RCA connections to your stereo. Now if everything is working correctly, you should be up in running in about 48 seconds. Seriously, this whole process is so simple my parents could do it.

Installed and started up, the first thing you notice is the display and its inherent readability. Slim Devices opted for a vacuum fluorescent display. What does this mean toClick to enlarge you? It's stunning, bright, clear, readable from across a large room and doesn't fade into oblivion like LED displays. The startup screen will search and find your server and then instantly give you access to all your MP3s from iTunes (or wherever else you tell the server to look), including all your iTunes playlists. The navigation is all done through a simple remote control and easy-to-understand menu systems. "So what's the big deal?" you ask. Can't I just send some speaker wire to my Mac from my stereo and get effectively the same functionality? Yes, while you can play music via this method, the functionality is far lacking in comparison to the SLIMP3.

The SLIMP3 offers the following benefits:

  1. You can have multiple SLIMP3 units throughout your house, office, etc. all plugged into your network, all playing different streams of music, from the same library. So, if your house is wired for it, every room in the house can be playing its own music, while still sharing the same library. Basically, throw away your CD players, hook up one of these and simply rip the CDs on your Mac if you haven't already. Also, it uses very little processing power and their techies have told me that even a low-end computer can handle more than a dozen SLIMP3 players.

  2. It can also convert Apple's AAC format to MP3 on the fly. The Slim Devices folks had this upgrade up before I even had a chance to ask them if they were going to offer it. (Note, music purchased from the Apple Music Store is protected and cannot be played back with SLIMP3 until Apple provides the necessary hooks to enable this. In the meantime, it is possible to burn your Apple Music Store songs to CD and re-rip them. Annoying but not the end of the world.)

  3. There's a full-featured web interface that can control any and all players on the network. So, if you wanted to get really funky, or just hated using the remote control, you can use any computer on the network to play music, switch songs, adjust volume, create playlists and lots more. Or even, walk around the house with an AirPort equipped iBook and change the music in three different rooms in the house. Never ceases to impress the guests. Download their server software before you buy to see all the functionality.

  4. Slim Devices is a completely Mac friendly product and company. Its nearest competitors run on Windows only.

Parting comments Click to enlarge

I recently had the "pleasure" of living through a gut-rehab of our house and I put Ethernet jacks throughout my house. Every room has a computer network jack and is ready as new technology as it becomes available. The SLIMP3 has made this investment in wiring payoff before the construction workers even left. Even if you aren't wired, it is possible to hook up a wireless bridge to the SLIMP3 unit and connect to your wireless (aka AirPort, etc.) network. While for me, I now have all my 750+ CDs ripped onto my Mac and the discs themselves are in a box in my basement.

by Joshua D. Wachs


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