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Hands-on: T-Mobile unveils full album downloads

T-Mobile gave us a demo of its upgraded Mobile Jukebox music download service, which will offer full album downloads to T-Mobile users as of next month

Mere days after Woolworths decided, "Hey, CD singles suck. Let's stop selling them," does T-Mobile realise, "Hey, albums rock. Let's sell more of them." The mobile network is to sell full album downloads from the beginning of June, through its Mobile Jukebox service.

T-Mobile has been selling music downloads for a quid a pop since last year, armed with a modest catalogue of 1.2 million tracks from all four major record labels. But it has decided albums priced between £6 and £11 are more their customers' cup of tea, Gareth Williams, UK entertainment manager at T-Mobile, told us yesterday.

Some 100,000 complete albums will be available alongside the existing catalogue of 1.2 million songs. As part of the deal, customers will also get a copy for playback on a PC once purchased via their mobiles. These will be available from T-Mobile's Web site.

But sadly both the AAC-format mobile downloads and WMA-format PC versions are coated in the flaming red cloak so many digital shoppers are now avoiding: DRM. They won't play on an iPod, but they will on protected WMA-supporting players, such as those from Creative and Sony. You can, thank the overlords, burn the tracks to CD.

We've been given early access to the service and it's certainly easy to use. It found five of the six albums we searched for, including an obscure classic from in-house favourites Primus. All but one album was priced at either £9 or £10 (the other was £7), of which Kate Nash's Made Of Bricks was just such a ten-quid offering. In comparison, Amazon and iTunes offer it for a fiver on CD and download respectively -- but the T-Mobile price does include the data cost, which is handy if you're not an 'unlimited' tariff.

Still, these things are always a work in progress and while there's nothing particularly ground-breaking on offer here, it's certainly going to be a welcome addition to the T-Mobile ecosystem, and we were pleased to see it was easy to use and quick to download.

Pay monthly and pay-as-you-go users will be able to use the service with, we're told, over 50 handsets, when the service goes live around the beginning of June. -Nate Lanxon