Twenty years ago, if someone had told us we’d be streaming our favorite shows from the internet legally, we would have scoffed at them and disregarded it, never mind how the speed of broadband internet has changed the way we live our everyday lives. Roll on to the last couple of years, where media streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus have taken over and the days when we sat in front of the television flicking through 57 channels with nothing on are no more. Now there’s a whole host of entertainment right at the tap of a button, and we literally have to make no effort to leave our seats as these services take over our smartphones, tablets and electronic devices in a huge way.
But which service to pick? We’ve researched every possible choice out there, engaged in some elaborate hands-on testing, and narrowed down the extensive list to one reigning champion. If you look at the table below, it becomes fairly obvious that each media streaming service provider excels in some aspects but lags behind in others. By comparing each feature, it became much easier to narrow down the overall ultimate media service app.
Internet Radio has some fierce competition. Since the launch of iTunes Radio in 2013, it became much harder to single out one service in particular that reigns supreme. Does the popular US service Pandora still have what it takes to surpass all others? Is Slacker Radio more your personal preference?
Either way, following on from last week’s column where we compared on-demand music services, we have taken it upon ourselves to narrow down the competition, including iTunes Radio, Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, Last.fm and TuneIn Radio; see the table below. We’ve also done some hands-on testing and in-depth research in order to determine just who has the leading edge and what they offer in terms of functionality, catalog size, features and usability.
In 2001, Apple changed the way music was distributed with the arrival of iTunes, its online digital media store. Since that time, the digital age has evolved rapidly into an era where cassette mix tapes and compact discs are no more. As we enter an era in which the internet serves our every need, alongside digital distribution and the iTunes Store are an increasing number of on-demand music streaming services have become today’s most popular and possibly cost-effective means of accessing the equivalent of walking into your local music store and buying everything.
Unlike Pandora and iTunes Radio (which we’ll cover shortly in another column), on-demand streaming radio allows you to listen to any music in the service library as often as you like.
The competition between the unlimited all-you-can-stream music services is fiercer than ever before, and with the launch of Beats Music this past month, it has become even more difficult to pinpoint the most suitable music subscription for our needs.
However, after hours of research, a comparison of the seven on-demand services on offer (including Beats Music, Spotify, Rdio, Xbox Music, Rhapsody, Sony Music Unlimited, and Google Play Music–see our table below), and some hands-on testing, we’ve managed to narrow down the overwhelming choice to a select few that offer the best overall features and usability. So let’s crack on with the results, shall we?