We all love music, don’t we? If anybody doesn’t, they should speak up now. We also all know Pandora, the service that helps us discover new music, a process previously only allowed by payola-filled radio or friend recommendations. This service is a real breakthrough, and we all love it, but it has its weaknesses.
Today, I decided to take the plunge and support Pandora, and I bought a subscription to Pandora|One, their paid for service. This service touts a desktop application, custom skins, ad-free music, a mini-player, and custom skins for their web interface.
After playing with this service, I have mostly good things to say about it, and I know I will be renewing my subscription next year for another $36. Let’s start with the easiest feature to review : the audio quality. No complaints here, it sounds much better than regular Pandora on my surround sound speakers, though nowhere near as good as FLAC. Not too much of a setback for me, but audiophiles beware.
Next, we come to my favorite feature: the desktop app. I was wary of this going in, due to the fact that I run Linux. I was afraid that I would be downloading the dreaded .exe file, and I was severely disappointed in that regard. The folks at Pandora (and I love them for this) decided to use Adobe’s AIR framework. Criticize it as much as you want, but it’s definitely the way I am listening to my Pandora from now on. The interface is amazing, and feels like the iPhone application (which I also use). It has an awesome notification system that reminds me of screenshots of the Ubuntu 9.04 notification system. The audio quality is also 192 kbps, and they skinned it black, which happens to look great with almost any desktop (fit right into mine). Once again, I want the Pandora guys to know how happy I am that they decided to support Linux.
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On to the next feature : the miniplayer. It is the same mini-player that used to be available for free. This is the one place where I would like to criticize Pandora. Taking out a perfectly good, free feature in order to “add” a feature to Pandora 1 is unacceptable in my opinion. I would have paid to get rid of the ads on it, but making free users suffer is really not something that I like to see. If it is still available and I just did not see it when I was still Free, just drop a comment and I’ll withdraw this.
Next, the skins. They are really just a bunch of background changes; nothing spectacular. There are some nice ones, but I really don’t think we needed something like that. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not a bad touch if you’re stuck on the web inteface, but they could have done more (skinning the whole site not the background). I have faith in Pandora, and I hope they will be able to put something like that together. If not, so be it.
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Last features are unlimited skips per day (still six per hour though). Nothing much to be said, except I wish they would work out more skips with licensing companies. I understand that it may not be possible, but hey, I can dream. The no-ads is a nobrainer, and I didn’t have a problem before due to a certain FireFox extension.
Well, that’s all. Drop your feedback, and feel free to correct me.