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 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.