Review of Sony’s new music service, Connect

arts and entertainment, business and consumers, technology, tips

I’m a glutton for punishment. When new music services come out, I love to try them, including Roxio’s Napster, MusicMatch, iTunes, BuyMusic, Rhapsody, Coke’s music service, FullAudio’s MusicNow, RealOne, emusic, Weed, and many, many more.

Trying Sony’s new music service, Connect (which runs on Sony’s SonicStage software) was probably one of the most punishing of all. Let me count the ways:

– Huge, cumbersome download.
– Long install process, and reboot required.
– Downright UGLY and confusing interface.
– Same “low prices” (ha!) as most of the other major players… 99 cents per track / $9.95 per album.

But what sucks the most about Connect? YAFMF (“Yet Another $% Music Format”).

That’s right. When you pay for and download a track (which I was masochistic enough to do), you’ll get a file with an “OMA” extension (not even fit my Grandma!) that’s apparently encoded in Sony’s charmingly proprietary ATRAC codec that no one else touches with a ten foot pole.

Want to play the tracks you download in Windows Media Player?
Or WinAmp?
Or RealOne?
Or MusicMatch?
Or Media Center?

No, no, no, no, and a thousand times, no. You got it: you can only play the Sony tracks in the ugly-ass lumbering Sony SonicStage software. And while I’m one of the four people in the world that wasn’t all that thrilled with Apple’s iTunes-software near-lock-in for iTMS downloads, there’s no comparison: iTunes is elegant and gorgeous and highly functional compared to Connect.

And speaking of function… I couldn’t find a single feature that SonicStage offers that I can’t get out of any halfway decent music player. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough; anyone (Sony engineers?) care to enlighten me?

Oh, and I almost forgot. Here are a few other evidences of Sony’s music service suckitude (wow, my pain trialing Connect has made me channel Beavis and Butthead… this is scary indeed!):

– Lousy selection… worse than I’ve seen on ANY other major music service.
– Can’t play tracks from BuyMusic. Or Napster. Or MusicMatch. Or iTunes.
– Did I mention the hideous look and feel? Confusing arrows here and there, dropdown this, pulldown that, and a default color scheme that makes emo rock seem soothingly cheerful.

* * *

In case there’s even the slightest shred of doubt, I’ll be crystal clear:
Sony’s music service is, by far, the worst I’ve ever had the displeasure of trying out. Napster offers an innovative subscription service, MusicMatch provides stellar radio options, Rhapsody offers great customer service and a very good selection of tunes, and so on. Additionally, I’ve found that I can play music I download from MusicMatch on Napster and visa versa… and using the fabulous J. Rivers Media Center software, I can actually play songs from practically EVERY online music service… except, of course, for Sony’s downloads.

A short message to Sony (and other companies):
Treat the customer right. And fire those who disagree.

9 comments… add one
  • Raphael May 5, 2004

    Yeah, Sony makes great hardware, but their software sucks BIG TIME!!! I am very frustrated with the cumbersome applications that they bundled with my NX80V Clie PDA, although I love the PDA itself.

  • whitehatzero May 7, 2004

    long live itunes. 3.3 million in one week!

  • Brian May 13, 2004

    I’ll admit that I’m somewhat of a Sony fan…I just purchased a new netMD, but I’m having very few problems downloading music from connect.  Your pretty tough on a music service that’s only been “live” for ~ 1 month!!  Perhaps they should have waited a little longer before going “live” until they worked out some more of the bugs….but I also remember when all of the other music services that you mentioned were new…and they all suffered through the same support, selection, and software issues when they were in their infancy.  I mean WOW!….either lay off the caffeine or buy an iPod!

  • Danvds Aug 21, 2006

    I haven’t had any problems with my Sony Ericsson W810i. It has excellent software that works easily and quickly. It can run in the background optionally and look at this, oh by the way, ATRAC can be played by almost ALL my music players. plus it comes in a lossless audio form as well.

    From my point of view, people just see this review and agree because their scared of their own opinions, you guys rant too much, its so biased, only bad side of sony, no good side.

  • Danvds Aug 21, 2006

    by the way dudes, the new updated version of Sony’s music player works fine for me. No probs.

    😀

  • Adam Aug 21, 2006

    Danvds,

    That’s why I have open comments… so we can get some balance here :-).

    Thanks for writing!

  • Danvds (daniel) Aug 21, 2006

    yer, it’s just IVE never had problems, thought i might tell people. I mean, I count on reviews to buy something like a phone, if i get biased reviews then i might miss an excellent phone.  😀

  • danvds Aug 21, 2006

    BTW, who has tried music2phone by sony and their file manager, they are really good pieces of software.

  • sandra Apr 20, 2008

    😛
    i don?t know, sony connect works great on my pc. but i do not use it quite often

What do you think?