Wednesday, November 08, 2006

iTunes thrift store

Yesterday, I was reading Live a Big life, I love Andy's design work on this site, and conceptually its a great idea (once Id worked it out), so I decided to jump out of Google Reader and have a read the post in its design context (I wonder if RSS will ever address that...I guess not actually seeing as the letters stand for Really Simple!). Anyway I thought Id have a quick look at the side bar, seeing what Andy is watching, listening to etc. I clicked on this AllofMp3 link.

allof

I started seeing album covers I recognised and crazy low USD prices on them. I thought there must be some catch, like you rent the MP3 for a month, or it streams, has a crazy encoding that needs its own player, Nope.....well surely its illegal...Nope! I got the full bio of it here when searching for all of mp3 review, thinking this must be wrong! Here is the reason for this much cheapness!- Copyright organizations in Russia, unlike most of their colleagues abroad, are willing to close favorable deals with online music services. For one thing copyrights for downloads in Russia are more or less equal to the rights radio stations have to pay for broadcasting music. But the most important factor is that one US dollar is worth lots of rubles. In Russia CDs cost about 100 rubles ($3). So to Russians Allofmp3 is in fact almost as expensive as iTunes to Americans. - museekster.com So it seems ladies and gents we have found (with major hat tip to Andy White) the iTunes thrift store...but wait is everything as it seems? heres a review from my frenzied usage last night: I drove home imagining all the albums, I could legally download for a couple of quid!...and still sleep sound knowing I had actually paid for them, and not having the trouble from P2P (now clearly illegal) downloading of crappy qualities and files being hi-jacked. I got home and set up an account with allofmp3, all OK so far. Then I tried to add some money to the account (it works as a top up scheme instead of iTunes pay per download) All was lost!....they were not accepting credit cards at the moment, but I thought I saw a way round by buying an xrost prepay card and transfering it to allofmp3, but when trying to add money that way, they didnt accept VISA....argh! This was excrutiating, so near yet so far, like a glass of water to a thirsty man, stuck in a glass box (apprently!). Then again another way round, you could also buy xrost pre pay cards through Click and Buy, a BT service! SO off I trotted rubbing my music desiring mitts, but then NO again, the BT (horrifically designed site) would accept the city I lived in, and the error message was cut off half way through so there seemed no way to do it. I was beaten...but I thought maybe a little persistence would help, 7th time it went through I opened an account, paid up $20 (£10.47), registered the card on allofmp3 and added the albums to my basket like a squirrel on the last day before winter gathering nuts. SO how did they download, I thought this was meant to be a review not a collection of strange metaphorical images?? Once placed into the basket, you go to the album, and save target as.. a right click option most will be familiar with, but you have to do it for each song, which is a bit of an inconveniece. Another inconvenience is that the files are mixed and matched and some have tags (for their importing into iTunes with Album and Artists etc then some dont. So basically theres a little leg work in getting them ship shape, for the iPod transfer. The files were excellent quality, and (not that I see that Ill ever need to use this function, you can choose the bitrate (quality) and file extension you want the file in!....

So in Conclusion to this sporadic and strange review of All of MP3, I give it a 5/10 for usability, 7/10 for Quality of Service, 9/10 for Value for Money (lets face it the only thing better would be free, legal music!) The usability issues are easy to overcome with a couple of minuites of playing around and are well worth the while for the money your paying compared to iTunes.

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