SanDisk's SlotMusic strategy puzzled me at first. I didn't understand why anybody would pay almost the same price as a CD for an easily misplaced microSD card with lower-quality audio. The release of the $19.99 SlotMusic player, which is basically an MP3 player capable of playing these cards, changed my opinion a little bit. But I suggested that the real strength would come in curated cards containing, for example, a selection of songs from the Billboard charts. Given that a regular album cost $14.99 on this format, I figured that a curated card for the same … Read more
Last week, I expressed some doubt that Cisco Systems would be able to come up with a multiroom audio system that's usable by mere mortals. After all, home networking is still a pain to set up and debug, and Linksys isn't exactly a beloved consumer name.
Reading John Falcone's preview of the Linksys Wireless Home Audio System calmed my fears a little bit. Not only has Cisco hired some industrial and user interface designers, it has gotten a few things right that Sonos missed.
First, the Linksys system is completely wireless, while Sonos requires you to have … Read more
As I said in my 2008 sum-up, people tend to overestimate the amount of change that will happen in one year--which means my best bet for 2009 would be to simply reiterate my almost-there predictions from 2008, like the death of DRM and the decline of the concert industry.
But that would be boring. Thus, behold my all-new-and-improved predictions for music and technology in 2009:
Zune phone--sort of. 2009 will finally be the year that Microsoft takes the wraps off its mobile-entertainment strategy, and the Zune brand will be prominently featured. Perhaps as early as next week at CES, Microsoft … Read more
Networking is a dark art, and putting the word "home" in front of it makes it no simpler. Debugging a home network is not for the faint of heart--the intelligence of the on-screen wizards peters out after the first few obvious fixes, and soon you're checking help forums, running ipconfig commands, and tweaking DHCP settings.
So today's news from The New York Times--that networking giant Cisco Systems is getting into the consumer electronics business--filled me with dread.
The idea of piping audio files from your computer to your home stereo or other audio devices is valid: … Read more
I've been a fan of the Sonos Multi-Room Music System ever since I saw it in action at a neighbor's house a couple summers ago. There's no other solution that gives you such easy access to so much music in so many places in your house, whether that music is stored on your computer or delivered via partnerships with Internet music providers like Last.fm (owned by CBS, which also owns CNET), Pandora, or Rhapsody.
Recently, Sonos sent me a system to test out with their new free iPhone controller (more about that later), and I came … Read more
In particular, the mechanics of the touch screen--you have to press areas on the screen with some force, as if they're actually keys--have been greeted with almost universal frustration.
But for a would-be iPhone killer, the reviews are remarkably light on the Storm's music features. It's true that BlackBerry users are traditionally e-mail junkies, and the phone's communications features (apart from the touchscreen weirdness) are … Read more
Opening gift cards is always a bit of a letdown. They're great gifts--I'd much rather get a gift card than some expensive gadget that I don't want or already have, and which I'll have to return for store credit. But the moment of revelation itself? Oh, a plastic card. Kind of boring.
Until now. Beginning Tuesday, Best Buy is selling $50, $100, and $200 gift cards with a built-in mini-headphone (one-eighth-inch) jack, connecting cable and speakers. Why? Because they can! Plug any MP3 player into it and you'll be able to rock some tunes around … Read more
The great draw of portable MP3 players is quantity.
I remember when my wife and I took a six-month backpacking trip back in 1999. We never even considered bringing an MP3 player, which might have had a whopping 64MB of flash memory, enough for about a hour of audio compressed at 256kbps. Instead, we brought a Discman and about two dozen CDs in a soft case. We grew extremely bored with those CDs and ended up jettisoning or trading most of them.
Today, you'd laugh if somebody told you they were considering bringing CDs on a trip--why would you, … Read more
I've expressed my lackluster opinion of satellite radio before, but it has a lot of passionate fans, particularly people who spend a lot of time in the car and enjoy hearing music, as well as news and sports.
The combination of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio has more than 19 million paying customers and still expects subscriber growth, even in the worst economic climate in 80 years, though it's warned that the drop-off in car sales could hurt.
I've written about Nokia's Comes With Music service several times, but the service officially kicked off Wednesday in the U.K. And the first hands-on reviews--from Music Ally and IDG News--are mostly positive.
In particular, reviewers are praising the PC software's intuitive interface and the relatively painless registration process. Access to the free music comes courtesy of a code printed on the inside of the phone's box. Downloads are almost unlimited, although Nokia has a clause that warns it might temper downloads if a certain undisclosed average number of downloads per user is reached.
The … Read more