I started seeing a lot of great press on how Amazon had beat Apple and Google to the punch with their new cloud based music player, so I thought I would check it out. (Knowing Amazon’s history of great systems, I was really looking forward to seeing what they had come up with.)
Well, I downloaded the player and thought, huh, this looks very rudimentary. (That may be giving it too much of a compliment. More on the interface later.)
I clicked on the button to upload my music and it started scanning my computer for music. It scanned over 14,000 songs and did not find any it could upload! It turns out it only can deal with low resolution MP3 and AAC. Since all of my music is in AIFF (my preferred format for best sound), I had to convert to MP3. I decided to try one song to start with, an acoustic Alanis Morissette song I use a lot for testing. I then did the manual upload. Interestingly enough, I am on high speed RoadRunner, yet it still took a full minute to upload one low resolution MP3 file.
I plugged my Grado headphones into my new Peachtree Music Box (I’m blogging soon on this little jewel) which is now connected to a Windows 7 Dell computer. I clicked play and the song started playing immediately. My first thought was something must be broken. This particular track starts with very deep and detailed bass information from a bass guitar and kick drum. However, there was just no bass at all. At first I thought, maybe the MP3 down rez had screwed it up badly, so I went to my J River player I use for Windows and played back the down resolution MP3 file I had there for uploading. While it did not sound nearly as good as the AIFF version, it had the bass information. Unlike the Amazon playback, it was also not covered in a distorted haze. My opinion of the sound on the Amazon Cloud Player: big time thumbs down!
So, I started thinking: maybe there is some other benefit to this system that would outweigh the horrible audio performance. (Yeah, right.) I dived into the player. Well, to sum it up, there is nothing. Its player adds nothing of value. You just see your albums, artists, songs, and playlists. Amazon could not even find cover art for the stuff I uploaded, even though they sell the music in their store and have the cover art on their site. And speaking of their storefront where they sell music, that is where I think they really missed the boat. As most of you know, digital music has meta tags identifying a whole bunch of information about the song including artist, album, name, time, etc. Amazon, as one of the worlds largest resellers of music, has all of this information on their website. It would have been cool for their cloud based player to pull information back in from their site based on those meta tags. They could pull in reviews, album information and heaven forbid, even show you some songs you might want to purchase. Did they do any of this? Heck no! Amazon Cloud Player interface: another big time thumbs down.
Lastly I thought, perhaps this cloud based system would let you have just tons of music stored you could access from anywhere. That would be kind of cool if I was traveling and had access to tens of thousands of songs I had uploaded. So I clicked on the little icon to upgrade my storage capability just to see how much this might cost. I had to do a double take on the pricing which I show below. They actually want $1000 per YEAR for 1TB of cloud storage. Yes, per year!!!! A quick check of current prices for external hard drives shows you can buy 1TB of storage for under $99!!!!! Are they out of their minds??
So can someone help me out here? Amazon is getting all kinds of good press for beating Apple and Google to the punch with their cloud based music system. Did any of these people actually investigate the offering? Don’t get me wrong, the idea is great. One thing is for sure, their first attempt does not set the bar very high for whatever Apple or Google are planning!