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MusicMarker Now review: MusicMarker Now

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The Good The MusicMarker Now is ultraportable, inexpensive, and decent at identifying most radio play.

The Bad The MusicMarker Now only recognizes popular songs, and it doesn't work well in environments with moderate ambient noise.

The Bottom Line The MusicMarker Now is a fine toy for identifying those well-known tunes that are just on the tip of your tongue, but if you're hoping to hunt down less-mainstream music, this won't do.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall

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We've all experienced it: listening to the radio, we hear a song we like, but we missed the DJ's introduction (or--more likely--he never said it). Or you're out shopping, and the tune coming over the speakers catches in your head and drives you crazy ("what is it?!?"). The solution is a service known as music recognition, whereby you record a snippet of the song, and then its sound waves are analyzed against a database to provide you with the most likely match. Several cell phone providers, such as Virgin Mobile and AT&T, have been offering this type of service for a while now. But now a British company called MusicMarker has a standalone device for the job: the MusicMarker Now, a keychain-size device that'll set you back a mere $16.99 ($21.99 with shipping).

The MusicMarker Now looks strikingly like a

Thanks to its itty-bitty size (about 1.5 inches high by 1.5 inches wide by 0.3 inch deep), the MusicMarker Now is easy to conceal on your person. Keep it in a pocket or connect it to your keychain via the built-in loop that's sticking out of the top. We recommend the latter, as we frequently lost track of it over the course of our three days of testing. The package contains a cute little smiling music note keychain if you want to use that, or there's a white lanyard with a clip for toting it around your neck.

While figuring out how to record songs with little instruction was easy enough, getting the tracks identified wasn't as much of a no-brainer--it would be nice if MusicMarker included a quick start guide for the less-tech-savvy. First, you have to go to the Web site and register with a code that comes on a card in the box. Then, you'll need to download some software (a 3.9MB download) from the site--nowhere in the package is there any documentation that you need software or directing you to where it is. After the software is installed, though, things get much simpler. When you plug the MusicMarker Now in (via standard mini USB, cable included), the software automatically launches. Click upload, then you are taken to a page that keeps track of your songs and allows you to review and identify them.

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