Smooth interface; slow start-up
Once you download and install MoodLogic's 2.7MB file--for PCs only, sorry, Mac users--the program automatically opens a View box on the left side of the interface that links to the Activation Center, My Active Music, Search, Preferences, and Help. The center window displays song lists. As soon as you launch MoodLogic the first time, it searches for all the music files on your computer--MP3, WAV, Real, and WMA. Click Activate Music, and it checks your tunes against its network in order to activate them. One caveat: You need a broadband connection for this service. Over CNET's internal LAN, MoodLogic spent about 90 minutes categorizing 500 songs. When we activated about 8,000 songs over DSL, MoodLogic ran in the background for more than 24 hours.
So, what does it mean to "activate" your music? At your bidding, MoodLogic checks your song's waveforms against those in its database--a more accurate scan than reading metadata , ID3 tags, or filenames--which have been hand-ranked according to about 40 or 50 data points. Data points are such information as genre and subgenre, mood, instruments, energy level, emotion (such as sad, aggressive, uplifting, exciting), and type of lyrics (such as Love/Romance, Brooding/Cynicism, Sentimental, or Energy/Rebellion). The paid version activates 10,000 songs, but the free version limits you to just 25 activations, or so-called credits. However, with either version, you can profile songs yourself and earn more song credits.
If your song is fully profiled in the MoodLogic database, it appears in the My Active Music window with a green dot; partially profiled songs (with only album, artist, and song name) show up in the Activation Center window with a yellow dot, and unavailable songs display a red dot. With your collection of active music, you can use MoodLogic to compile playlists on the fly that match your frame of mind simply by specifying a genre, a tempo, or a mood or by searching for songs in your collection that sound alike.
Unfortunately, MoodLogic classifies songs only after many users have profiled them with the same criteria. This means that the profiling is accurate, but also that the network moves slowly. In our two months of testing, MoodLogic issued only one database update. Worse, we found the database incomplete and inconsistent. MoodLogic activated entire albums of relatively obscure artists but lacked any data on more mainstream selections, such as Moby. If you want an entirely active collection, you'll have to profile songs yourself or wait for more users to join the network and do more profiling.
Spotty player support
MoodLogic supports only a few portable MP3 players: the Rio series players, the , and the (click here for the list). Unfortunately, we couldn't get MoodLogic to recognize our Nike PSA, which was running under Windows XP. E-mail tech support took more than a week to respond and did not solve the problem. MoodLogic also hosts forums, which often refer users back to the weak e-mail, and a not-very-technical FAQ.
A work in progress
For sheer innovation and promise, MoodLogic won us over, but it's not quite up to speed. Much of the time, some features, such as an Instant Mix button, either worked poorly or didn't function at all. We also wish that MoodLogic would store our manual song activations on a server or even a file on our hard drive. When we reinstalled our OS and MoodLogic, the 100 or so songs that we'd profiled by hand were totally lost.
Still, our complaints are minor, and we love the MoodLogic concept. As of this writing, we can't recommend that you shell out the $29.95, but try the free version and sit tight--this is a service that can only improve.