Pandora|One : A Review

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.

The Desktop Application : It Looks Great

The Desktop Application : It Looks Great

(Click to Enlarge)

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.

One of the Many Skins

One of the Many Skins

(Click to Enlarge)

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.

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love your wallpaper. Where’d you get it?

    And it’s great that they’re supporting Linux like this. I may go check them out in the near future.

  2. Have you tried Slacker Radio ( I prefer it to Pandora, but, would love to see your review, especially of the Slacker Radio Plus service compared to Pandora One.

    • I’ll check it out and possibly write something about it… Thanks.

  3. I’ve always been a huge fan of Pandora for going on two years or so. I work in IT so the 40 hour/month limit is a joke for me haha! Anyway, I’ve been paying the $1 a month for the six months or so and after reading this decided to just suck it up and spring for Pandora One.

    Also, good to hear that the application runs nicely on Linux – I don’t listen to Pandora too much at home (on my Linux machine) but I’m happy to know that it will be just as easy to use/run well.

    Cheers and thanks!

  4. Pandora is the best when coupled with my Blackberry and a Blue tooth transmitter in my car (available from Motorola). I play Pandora on my Blackberry, which feeds the Blue tooth, and then transmits via FM radio to my car radio. Basically free satellite radio. Great for those that work in their cars.

  5. I run Ubuntu and have Pandora One service. I like the desktop Adobe Air player immensely. One problem I have:
    If you accidentally thumbs up / down a song you can’t go back and fix it without launching the browser interface. And then, you must navigate to the channel and find the song and remove it from the list.

    So this comes to the browser themes part… When you have Pandora One the browser interface is much smaller because of the ad removal etc, so I choose to run the browser interface in a dedicated browser instance (single tab for the window). So I like the themes idea, I just wish that they opened that up in a way to allow user-uploaded theme images.

    • Hey,

      You can actually change your thumbs up/downs using the desktop application. I used pandora one for almost a year before I realized that when you see an album cover you can actually click on it, and then it lets you scroll through all the songs your station has played so far and either thumbs up/down those songs that have played.

  6. I’ve been using Free Desktop Wallpaper for 2 years now but you guys talking about Pandora, intrigue me. I guess checking it out won’t hurt me, right?

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