“Sony Connect, the new online music service that opened for business on Tuesday [is] easy-to-use but, in its debut version, almost embarrassingly crude imitation of the music services that preceded it. The twist: You know how the iPod is the only portable player compatible with Apple’s popular iTunes music service? In the same way, songs from Sony Connect play back only on certain Sony music players (so-called Atrac-compatible Memory Stick-based players and MiniDisc players)… Unless you have a Sony player, Atrac may as well be 8-track,” David Pogue writes for The New York Times.
“A program called Sony SonicStage (for Windows 98 and later) serves as a digital jukebox… The ‘live’ area inside Sony’s enormous waste of pixels is much too small for the software’s seven columns of information (title, artist, album and so on). As a result, many song or album names are chopped off, abbreviated by ellipses… in most jukebox software – like Apple’s… you would simply adjust the column widths or hide the columns you don’t need. But the columns in SonicStage are fixed in width, and you can’t hide or rearrange them,” Pogue writes.
“Sony Connect is almost exactly like its predecessors – but less. Most songs are $1, but Sony arbitrarily doubles the price of any song longer than seven minutes… Sony Connect’s fine print reveals that you can burn only five standard audio CD’s. The other five must be Atrac CD’s, a kind of disc that holds many more songs but plays back only on 11 models of Sony CD players. (In other words, you can’t play an Atrac CD in your car, which is a chief reason for burning a CD in the first place.) Note, too, that SonicStage can’t rip audio CD’s [into] MP3 format… Software annoyances are everywhere,” Pogue writes. “When you search, for example, no progress bar tells how much longer you have to wait, so you conclude that the software hasn’t responded and pointlessly click again… The whole thing feels put together by accountants, not music lovers.”
Pogue writes, “You’d never guess that this service comes from a company that’s both the world’s most recognized consumer-electronics brand and the owner of one of the world’s biggest record companies… maybe they ought to call it Sony Disconnect.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: After reading Pogue’s far-from-glowing review, it doesn’t look like Apple has much to be worried about with this one, either. However, Sony’s deep pockets and marketing muscle should be respected and their next version bears keeping an eye on. Unless Sony abandons about thier Atrac-only and Windows-only stance, though, this service doesn’t look very promising.