Is Sony's cloud-based Music Unlimited service too limited?

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Recently, Sony released an application in the Android Market for its cloud-based Music Unlimited (powered by Qriocity) service. Music Unlimited gives users streaming access to a catalogue of over seven million songs.

Basic and premium versions of the service are available. With the basic subscription ($3.99 a month) you get internet radio with no ads and unlimited skips. You can also sync and access all of your music, search and play any of the over seven million tracks available, and access a variety of channels. The premium subscription ($9.99 a month) adds more channels, unlimited playback, and the ability to create playlists accessible across all devices. Both subscriptions allow access from a variety of devices including network-enabled BRAVIA HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and Blu-ray Disc Home Theater systems, as well as the PlayStation 3, PSP, and personal computers.

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For me, the service offered the promise of access to streaming music on my network-enabled Sony Blu-ray Disc players, Android phones, PlayStation 3, and personal computers. One of the frustrations I have with other subscription music services like Rhapsody and Zune is that they limit the number of portable devices you can use them on (three portable devices for each service). Even worse in my opinion are services like Amazon MP3 and Music Beta by Google that simply let you "store" your own music collection in the cloud for streaming playback without any opportunity to discover new music.

Unfortunately, the promise of Music Unlimited quickly faded when I realized (a point not emphasized in Sony's marketing) that you can only use the service on one device at a time. For example, I can't stream music on my Android phone while my son listens to his playlist on our PlayStation 3. By contrast, Rhapsody and Zune both allow simultaneous use.

These services, unlike Music Unlimited, also allow users to download content to their mobile devices. Even Amazon MP3 and Music Beta by Google permit this.

As a result, in order to use Music Unlimited, you must have a data connection. We all know that there are times when this is simply not possible. Why Sony would place these limitations on its service is beyond me. I'm now more inclined to simply get a second Rhapsody subscription that would give me access to music on up to six iOS and Android devices. It appears to me that Sony's Music Unlimited service is simply . . . too limited.

[Music Unlimited]
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Arthur Bartlett

Arthur Bartlett is a former contributor at Pocketables.

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