Spotify’s US launch caused such a big splash in the streaming music pond that ripples are still being felt. Many of the pricing barriers placed between users and the streaming services’ vast music libraries are tumbling down in Spotify’s wake: Pandora ditched its listening limit, the previously “Paying customers only” MOG rolled out a free version, and today, Rdio unveiled a new plan to let users get their listening on cash-free.
After months of rumors, whispers, and flat-out teasing by CEO Daniel Elk, Spotify finally hit the U.S. back in July. Even though the streaming music service still a bit green behind the ears in America, Spotify is no rookie; it’s been the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla on the European front for years. Now that you’ve had a couple of months to get used to Spotify’s deep catalog and basic abilities, it’s time to get serious and slip on your Maximum PC power user hat.
More and more streaming music services are launching bigger, more badass and – more importantly – free ad-supported versions these days, whether you’re talking about the gas can-like offering of MOG, Pandora’s ditching of a 40 hour listening limit, or Spotify’s awesome new 6 months free offer (although requiring new users to have a Facebook account flat-out sucks). But are customers really clamoring for free radio? Myxer – itself a popular (and free) mobile music provider – recently polled its listeners, and the results are overwhelming; few people actually pay to listen to tunes online.
The Internet radio market is getting more cluttered and cut-throat seemingly by the minute these days, with new services popping up left and right and trying to lure PC users with their siren songs. MOG has evolved into a top choice of many listeners, but until now, only paid subscribers could tune in. That changed this morning, when MOG introduced a free version of its service that features, um, a refillable gas tank.
There's a new tabletop Internet radio device from Grace Digital Audio featuring Pandora. According to Grace Digital Audio, it's the first tabletop radio to incorporate 1-button control of Pandora.
"Grace's Model GDI-IR2550p is the first and only tabletop radio that incorporates the same features that Pandora listeners use on computers and smart phones, including 1-button access to the thumbs up/down song selection and play/pause functions," the company said. "Listeners can also skip, play, pause, and even bookmark songs directly from the remote and front control panel."
The Internet radio provides access to over 50,000 radio stations, podcasts, and on-demand content. It's available now for $170.
My PC is in my home office and my home theater system is in my living room about 30 feet away. I like to listen to jazz but my local jazz radio station changed format so I started listening to jazz streamed over the Internet on my PC. I would like to stream this music to my home theater system. I already have a CAT-6 cable strung from my router to the DVR in my living room for on-demand TV. I’ve tried to sort through all the streaming devices available but have only managed to be confused and overwhelmed by the features and specifications. I wouldn’t mind streaming video too, but that is not my priority. A unit that will play Blu-ray discs is an acceptable option as all I have on my home theater system is CD/DVD, but, again, that is not a priority. Can you suggest some viable options for me? Thanks a heap!
Read the Doctor's advice for David after the jump.
Dension has figured out a way to cram tens of thousands of Internet radio stations into your pocket with no one ever being the wiser. It's called the Webradio and it's no bigger than a USB thumb stick, but unlike your flash drive, the Webradio lives up to its name by loading your RadioTime presets, provided you sign up for a free RadioTime.com account. After you do, just pair the device with a 3G-enabled mobile phone and plug it into your car radio's USB port and you're ready to rock.
"RadioTime.com will provide our users with access to 30,000 AM/FM and Internet-only radio stations and 100,000 music, news, talk, sports and entertainment programs, and the Dension Webradio makes it so easy to listen to your favorites anywhere, from the living room to the driver's seat," said Bill Moore, founder and CEO, RadioTime, Inc. "You simply plug the Webradio into your computer to copy your RadioTime account in one step. No need to enter any codes or endure a registration process."
You can also connect the Webradio to your home stereo, not just your car's audio system. Stations appear as MP3 files, and you can browse, select, and listen to the stations just as if they were regular MP3 music files.
The original Chumby—a beanbag with a touch screen, a speaker, and an always-on Internet connection using Wi-Fi—was an interesting hybrid of an always-on smartphone, a digital picture frame, and an old-fashioned alarm clock. The new Chumby One updates the original hardware with a few new features, strips away a few others, and comes in at a much cheaper price of $120 (the original was $200).
For lack of a better term, the Chumby is an information appliance. Using the web interface at Chumby.com, you can configure the device to show pretty much any info that’s available on the Internet, from the local weather to your Facebook news feed to the latest from popular gossip sites. Heck, you can even set it to simply show the current time. On top of that, the Chumby One includes a programmable alarm clock, which makes it perfect for your nightstand.
Sonos has expanded the breadth of its multi-room music system offerings with the introduction of the ZonePlayer S5. The S5 works in combination with the Sonos ZoneBridge or ZonePlayer to provide streaming music through your house. New to the Sonos system is an iPhone/iPod Touch app that allows control of each S5, individually or in unison.
The Sonos system is based on a SonosNet wireless system, which uses mesh network technology, where each device or player serves as a repeater. Because the system is standalone initial set-up and expansion is relatively effortless. Set-up and control of the system is through a free iPhone/iPod touch app or with the Sonos Controller application (for Mac or PC), included with the S5.
The $399 S5 contains 5 speakers: two tweeters, two 3-inch mid-ranges, and one 3.5-inch woofer. Each speaker is driven by its own Class D digital amplifier.
The Sonos system allows access to your personal music collection, through your home network; more than 25,000 internet radio stations, and online music services; such as Napster, Pandora, Rhapsody and SIRIUS.
With the threat of streaming rates for Internet radio rising to levels far above what many services could afford to pay, the future of Pandora and other Internet radio outlets remained very much in limbo. That's no longer the case, at least for Pandora, which reached an agreement everyone involved appears to be happy with.
For Pandora, the resolution means a 40-50 percent reduction in the per-song-per-listener rates. In exchange, Pandora will give up either a 25 percent share of its U.S. revenue, or the per-song-per-listener number, whichever is higher.
For Pandora's user base, the resolution means that anyone who uses the service over 40 hours per month will have to cough up $0.99 for unlimited access. The nominal fee is to help offset the royalty agreement, and is expected to only affect 10 percent of Pandora's users.
Despite the 25 percent royalty rate, Conrad remains optimistic that Pandora will reach its stated goal to be profitable by next year.