iTunes may be the best-known online music store, but there are several other music and streaming options out there that are worthy of consideration. With one of the broadest music catalogues around – 7Digital is behind hmvdigital and other bespoke music download services – it’s an obvious choice for a platform such as RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones which boast strong media player credentials but previously lacked a subscription music service to call their own.
The 7digital BlackBerry app offers a fast and efficient mode of acquiring music to play on your BlackBerry smartphone or to listen to on your PC or MP3 player. You can purchase individual tracks or complete albums. As long as there’s an active web connection, the tracks you choose are available almost instantly. You get either choose to download purchased music as soon as you've bought it or you can wait until you're in a Wi-Fi area so you can download over the air without worrying about how much of your monthly 3G data allowance you're using up.
Finding tracks to download is easy. When you fire up the app you get the choice of browsing by artist or album, looking for new music or songs in the charts, plus looking in My Locker. Featured albums and artists are shown, along with short biographies and a visual thumbnail of the album art.
All these choices are listed in a vertical, scroll-down menu on the left of the BlackBerry screen. The mini touchscreen scroll button of the latest Curve and Bold handsets really helps here.
The music genre categories that come up when you browse for music can be a little odd. Of the 15 or so proferred under 'folk' were no more than four recognisable names. Noah and the Whale, Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell all fit the bill; some of the others were a shot in the dark. Thankfully, there’s a More option or you can use the Preview feature in 7digital to sample 30 seconds or so of any song.
This is ideal if you’re trying to decide between buying a whole album or just the singles. We've all got CDs we never listen to or on which we skip to the best-known tracks. Alongside this is a great 'Similar to this' option. We're not sure Arcade Fire, New Order and The Beach Boys are all that similar though.
To buy music from 7digital you need a user account and to add a credit or debit card for payments. You don’t need to enter your full address, just the postcode, but you need to have the card to hand to enter start and end validity dates, the security code on the reverse and the card number itself.
At £7.99 for a chart album – we bought Flamingo by Brandon Flowers – it’s not the cheapest option for buying music, but it's DRM-free, so you can use it on more than one device. We also liked the fact you can sideload music via a microSD Card for playback. If you want to use 7digital to manage your music, it has its own player too. A neat function here is the automatic ordering of tracks based on which you listen to the most.
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