For sometime now, I’ve heard various people talk about Pandora. Pandora is an internet based ‘radio’ service. You can personalize it so it only plays music that interests you. I’ve heard podcasters like Leo Laporte and others talk about how they have replaced the radio with Pandora using an iPhone. Well, having XM/Sirius for several years, I just could not for the life of me understand what the appeal for an internet based ‘radio’ station would be, especially in your car.
Fast forward to today. I had downloaded the app for my Palm Pre. Gave a quick whirl at home and dismissed it as ‘nice’, but why? So, while in my car, I wanted to see how good the Pre’s audio out really was. I quickly unplugged the audio cable from my satellite radio and plugged into the Pre (glad the Pre has a normal audio out jack) and started the Pandora app.
I was pleasantly surprised. Audio quality was great and, surprisingly, most of the songs I heard were songs that I liked and I had only set up a Queen channel. The ‘channel’ played Queen songs AND songs that were similar to they style of music that Queen played. Very nice indeed.
I can see the appeal of something like Pandora, but I don’t think it will replace my Sirius or XM radios anytime soon. I will use it from time to time to listen to specific things in my car, but, most likely, I would use it more at work or somewhere that I could not use the satellite radio. One thing that Pandora cannot offer that satellite does are the specialized channels like NASCAR, IRL, Howard Stern and other such stations. I’m a NASCAR/IRL fan and these are the big reasons I have satellite radio.
The Pandora application for Pre is nicely done. The interface is clean and simple with nice cover art. The application is kind of slow to start, you get the Pandora splash screen almost right away, but it is slow to start playing. I suspect it is buffering the stream first. Once it starts, you can give a thumbs up or down to the currently playing song, you can pause the song or skip to the next song. The skipping feature is nice, if it plays a song that you do not like. Thumbs up or down seems to ‘teach’ the application more about your likes or dislikes. Best of all, Pandora is free.
Oh, other nice thing…if you get a call, your song pauses. When the call is complete, the music starts up again.