May 08, 2008
| by Lisa Montgomery
Pay attention to the compatibility features of the server, too. Manufacturers will often embed special middleware software into their servers to streamline the download process with certain digital music stores. Servers from ReQuest, for example, are designed to support iTunes and Amazon. “You can still download music from other stores, but it’ll take a little computer experience to do it,” says Bill McKiegan, ReQuest vice president of sales and marketing.
Buying songs online is convenient, but like shopping for anything on the web, it’ll take time to wade through your choices. By contrast, subscription-based services like Rhapsody and Napster provide unlimited access to a library of millions of songs for a monthly fee. This is a great way to discover new music and artists without having to pay for every album and track you listen to. To sweeten the deal, manufacturers like Sonos and Control4 are offering owners of their digital music systems free 30-day trials to these jukebox services.
Even more effortless are Internet radio services that let you create your own personal playlists by simply choosing the songs you want to hear. By going onto Finetune or Pandora, you can type in the name of a particular artist or style of music, and the service will instantly play the songs that match your criteria. When you hear a song you don’t like, you can skip it and go on to the next. Based on your preferences, the service continually grooms your music. “Through services like these, music listening can become a more social experience,” says Cullen. “You can tell a friend about a new tune you just heard, and they can go right to the service and hear it without having to pay for it.”
As digital music services continue to evolve, manufacturers of servers and streaming devices will redefine their products, adding new features and functions to keep their products fresh and appealing to all types of consumers. “With the proliferation of jukebox and Internet radio services, digital music has become something you don’t have to be a techie to enjoy,” says Cullen. Anyone with a home that has a broadband connection can have access to a wide selection of music without having to rip their CDs onto a hard drive or boot up their PCs to download tracks.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.