Slim Devices Transporter high-end digital audio player
Audiophile device transports music to a new level?
Exclusive Preview Mountain View, California is the home of start-ups. Turn any corner and it's likely there'll be a name you recognise. Some have grown into huge companies, and some, like Netscape, have disappeared, recalled only by the boards that used to display their logos. Turning down what looks like a residential street, there's a small building that turns out to be the home of Slim Devices, best known as a maker of consumer-friendly music streamers. But now it's chasing the big time with a device for the audiophile arena...
Slim Devices' players have constantly been improved over time, with the latest incarnation being the Squeezebox 3 - you can read Reg Hardware's full review here. As a sub-$300 unit, the Squeezebox pretty well dominates its market and it does a very good job. However, there have been criticisms, the main one being that it's not an audiophile product.
Enter the Transporter, announced in July as Slim Devices' foray into the very high-end market. It's not cheap - expect to pay around $2,000 when it launches later this year. Availability is anticipated for mid to late September.
Slim Devices has a clever approach to music streaming: put the intelligence into the music server software - it's called SlimServer - so the hardware only needs to decode music streams and drive the displays. That's not to say the player lacks brains. There is some intelligence in the player and that's where Slim Devices does its magic - and maintains its secrets. This code is tightly controlled by Slim Devices.
Other companies wouldn't dream of pre-announcing a product so early. But Slim Devices is in strange position: it has to. While the core functionality delivered by SlimServer are driven by Slim Devices, the code's open source so much of the development work is carried out by the community who make the client do interesting things apart from just stream music. In order to support the new features of Transporter, the server needs to be updated, and to do that the software development community needs to know about the new hardware well in advance of it actually shipping.
Even the internals of the Transporter have been influenced by dedicated members of the community. Some have been hired to implement various pieces of hardware or the software.