Included as part of the Power Vision plan on new Sprint phones, the Groove Mobile music store allows users to purchase and download songs with nothing more than their mobile phone.
Hear a song at the mall and can’t wait until you can get to a PC to own your very own copy of it? Well, this music store is your ticket to instant music, no PC required But you’ll pay the price in more than one way.
The Sprint Power Vision music store powered by Groove Mobile puts approximately 400,000 songs at your finger tips whenever you have your Sprint Power Vision phone. Using the Music application built into the phone you can browse and play music available for sale as well as the music already purchased and downloaded to your phone The music player on Sprint Power Vision phones is surprisingly powerful In addition to playing songs in its native format, it can play MP3s and non-DRM’d AAC and AAC+ files.
The best way to get around the music store is Search You can search out tracks you like by artist, album, song title, etc As I searched around for different types of music I found the selection to be pretty good It doesn’t stack up to PC based music stores though Most of those have over two million songs available these days. There will also be currently featured songs on the landing page of the music store However, if you’re looking to buy an entire album, you may be disappointed I saw no way to browse the music store by album or a button to buy an entire album at a time.
Once you find a song you like, you can hear a thirty second clip of it to make sure it’s really what you want Then there’s a purchase button You don’t need to enter payment information since you’re just billed along with your Sprint phone bill This makes the purchase a one-click affair.
The songs download as soon as they’re purchased The come down surprisingly fast for a phone Nothing I’ve purchased has taken longer than a minute to download and start playing right there on my phone.
With the purchase of a song in phone format, you’re also entitled to download the song to your PC Simply visit www.sprint.com/musicstore and log in with your phone number and password You’ll see a list of all the songs you’ve purchased and never downloaded Click the button and down comes the song.
PC versions of the songs from the Spring Power Vision music store are Windows Media Video files They are sampled at 128 kbps just like the songs on iTunes The first time they are loaded by Windows Media Player they phone home to obtain the necessary license to play the songs All in all the PC versions of the music sound good and are easy to use
You can also use Windows Media Player 10 to transfer music purchased from the Sprint Music Store to portable devices that are compatible with WMP 10.
Now comes the down side As excited as I am to buy music on the go, I’m not ready to pay $2.50 plus tax per song No wonder there isn’t a Buy Album button It’d cost me $25 to buy a typical album with 10 songs on it!
Sprint defends their pricing by stating that for the money you get the song for your phone and for your PC But, wait a minute It’s still just the same song It’s not like I have to pay double the price on iTunes to have a song play on my PC and on my iPod But I am dependent on a PC to get that song onto my iPod So I guess there are two sides
And songs you download from the Sprint store cannot natively be played on an iPod Of course, that’s true of any Windows Media file, so just be sure of which formats your gadgets support before you buy and you’ll be fine.
And The Ugly
And the news gets worse The phone format of the songs you purchase just doesn’t sound that great I don’t have concrete numbers about what bit rate they’re sampled at, but they don’t sound as good as listening to FM radio The sound quality is poor through my phone’s built-in stereo speakers and its included ear buds Due to this fact alone your next Sprint Phone will not be replacing your dedicated MP3 player.
The only plus side I can see to having song files of this low quality is that I have been able to pile all kinds of them onto my phone Each song is only about 800 megabytes in size.
Word has it that the songs purchased and downloaded to your phone are really only licensed for three months While I hope that’s just a restriction on my demo phone, it may not be, so please be aware I haven’t had any of my phone’s music expire yet, but it hasn’t been three months yet either.
Make sure you don’t misplace the music files you download to your PC either You only get one shot at it Once the song is down that’s it You can’t download it again and you can’t move it from one PC to another either But you are allowed to cut a music CD of the songs you buy I think this will lead to users looking to circumvent the digital rights management contained in the Windows Media files.
While I’m impressed with Sprint’s efforts to provide music downloads without the need for a PC, this service just isn’t ready for most users I’ll be a lot more excited about this kind of offering when prices come down and sound quality goes up Still, if there’s a song you absolutely must have and you can’t get to a computer, and you’re willing to pay the price, you can get it through the Sprint Power Vision music store, powered by Groove Mobile.
Pros: Music downloads on the go, phone and PC format of the songs you buy, fast song downloads
Cons: high prices, low sound quality of phone format songs, somewhat limited music selection