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Pandora Radio: (Probably) Better Than Your Car Radio


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  1. jackaic10

    jackaic10 New Member This Topic's Starter

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    Circulation of Events

    Not every car is created equally. Some of us don't have the luxuries of an XM radio, or even a radio to speak of. I used to love driving across the city every day while listening to my favorite music stations. Eventually and after much abuse, my radio blew out. Still, for every window that closes, a door opens (or a box, in this case). The untimely fate of my car eventually led me to discover my current favorite Android application: Pandora Internet Radio. Due to its great sound quality and wide music selection, I actually prefer it to local radio. This application has an impact on the Android experience, and it is tied directly to Google's marketing strategy.

    The Positives

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    There are many great aspects to this application. The interface is easy to navigate, and for easy use, a shortcut version of the player can be displayed on the home screen. There are many different options, including the availability of customized radio stations and listener reviews (thumbs up and thumbs down). Pandora allows users to search for the music they want by song, artist, and genre. The music database has clearly been developed by music lovers; we will rarely find a song by an artist that does not have a biography available. In addition, Pandora's Music Genome Project offers explanations as to why certain songs show on certain stations. For example, when I open a station for ?Alice in Chains?, I usually also end up hearing songs by Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, and Nirvana. This is because similarities in music style, such as vocal style and instruments used. In addition, side projects of band members (Jerry Cantrell and Mad Season) would also occasionally show up. This leads me to the next benefit of this player, the music itself.

    Before this music player, I was unaware of many great, lesser known bands- Cabaret Voltaire is a little known gem that comes to mind. This application is frequently updated to include new underground artists and newly released songs, and developers are in an endless pursuit to have all commercially available music in its domain. MP3s are available for purchase and are reasonably priced. This music player has the advantage of running in the background while browsing the internet, playing games, or even when calls are made (on silent).

    The Negatives

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    There are several problems with this music player. The first and most glaring flaw is that for every song played by the artist the user searches for, generally 2-5 pass before another song is played by that band or singer. This can be averted by switching stations back and forth but it can quickly become frustrating when the band that a Pandora listener is trying to find simply does not show up. Since there is only about a 70% chance that the music player will even load the correct artist, the song search is useless. Even when the correct artist shows up, there is no guaranteeing that it will be the song desired. This leaves Android phone owners with only one option to hear the song they specifically want to: use Youtube, which is not nearly as flexible on Android as Pandora. I switched from Last.FM to Pandora because of the same problem, and if not for the superior interface and song selection of Pandora, I would have probably uninstalled the application. If Google Music offers a specific search engine in addition to the randomized process offered by the previous two music players, it will likely dominate this particular end of the market. Many people who have used this application would say that it is glitch at times, and this is very true. It is very frustrating when the song I actually want to hear is greeted by a force close!

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    One highly alarming issue I have with this application (once again, Last.FM is no better) is that Pandora is releasing user information to people search databases such as www.spokeo.com. If you are a subscriber to either application, go to this website and type in your email- even though I entered my Yahoo (not Gmail) account, the stations I listen to on Pandora music player are available for anyone to see. I am not very comfortable with this. If Pandora wants to keep its advantage over other radio streaming programs, the developers must address these frustrating problems.

    Is it the best option?

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    Not every radio is created equally. It is true that there are thousands of options available to consumers today, from traditional radios to XM services to even cable television or computer music channels. However, all of these have drawbacks. Car and portable radios offer AM and FM stations and are respectable options for someone who is running errands or doing housework. However, car radios are only as good as the car they are in, and often radios are the first to go. Similarly, only high end portable music players and radios have noteworthy sound quality and reception. XM radio is a luxury and computer/television music players have the obvious downside of being completely stationary. There is one and only one option that combines the portability of the car radio with the low cost of the traditional radio then offers the music selection of XM and similar programs- mobile streaming.

    Google Music will soon enter the fray, but for now, the main competitors in the market for music streaming on Android OS are Last.FM and Pandora. Both applications are derived from parent programs available for desktop use, and bring the benefits of internet radio to those who do not have direct access to a computer. These two applications address a market that had yet to be realized for Google phones, and as a result, they are now no longer just competing with Apple in the phone market. Our Droids and our Incredibles have ambitiously expanded the field they compete in to include the MP3 market with the introduction of streaming radio applications. This will have a significant impact on the sales of any MP3 players (Ipods included) that are not multifunctional and will most likely raise sales of Android-powered phones. For the above reasons, Pandora is the best music player option at this time.

    Conclusion

    Overall, Pandora has added greatly to the value of the Android operating system. Even though it has many flaws, both functionally and systematically, the good outweighs the bad (somewhat). Those who have privacy issues will not be comfortable with this music player, but at the same time almost every website distributes personal information at this point. There are definitely improvements to be made, but the song selection is simply top notch. I have learned about countless bands, artists, and even new genres through this application. It has accomplished its goal of providing consumer entertainment, if not total satisfaction. Still, for a free application, it comes pretty damn close. 7.5/10

    Reviewed by a Motorola Droid owner
     

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