Napster brought music into the 21st century with its radical offerings. Then there was a lawsuit. Now there are dozens of illegal piracy websites and torrent downloads. However, the legitimate way of music listening has manifested as streaming web-based audio radios. Pandora might be the best-known among these stations, but Slacker Radio offers everything Pandora doesn’t.

Slacker Radio store is not only packed full of great features, but it is also pleasantly maneuverable. The interface is a clean black and blue-themed website that organizes things conveniently. To the left-hand of the screen there’s a column of tabs. In the middle there’s the main venue, and elsewhere there will be ads if you opt for the free version.

The service streams audio at 128kbps, and rarely does the sound skip a beat. The lows and highs, and base and treble are well-balanced, especially when compared to the competition. Slacker Radio offers its service in portable mobile apps for any number of popular devices.

The organization of the site is one of the most user-friendly set-ups on the net. The 20 or so genres are organized into logical music groups, and within each group there are subgroups. The categories can include things like interviews with artists or behind the scenes audio takes.

The four sections of the website are ‘home’, ‘now playing’, ‘create your own’, and ‘devices’. Home is redundant but necessary, and now playing shows users the song album art, artist bio and track currently playing. “Create” allows you to set up custom stations and playlists. One important aspect of the interface is that the lyrics of the song, the album and artist are all on one page, so users don’t have to click around to find out what they’re listening to.

Users are given options to synchronize the music they have on their PC with portable Slacker Radio apps on their mobiles. Otherwise, the 20 stations that come ready with Slacker Radio are well thought out. There is, of course, the search bar to find the artist you want to listen to. If users are so inclined, they can purchase the songs they’re listening to from through Slacker Radio’s connection with Amazon.

As for the functionality of Slacker Radio, all versions work marvelously, but the paid ones give you more leeway. Pay $3.99 a month for no ads and unlimited songs (as opposed to the free version’s ads and 6 songs per hour cap). Pay $9.99 a month to create and store stations, have a separate “favorite” area, and even an on-demand option.

With the paid versions, users have the ability to edit and share their stations with others, and the stations they create are automatically saved for the next time they log in. Finally, Slacker Radio gives music crazies the option to listen to a whole album all the way through.

Slacker Radio is a superb audio streaming and web store service, beating the competition into the dust.