Datz Music Lounge

imageAt the Gadget Show Live recently was a company called Datz who were offering unlimited music download for only £75 per year – discounted from £99 for the show. I love music and am a regular downloader and so this sounded like a great deal – it would pay for itself in less than 100 downloads at iTunes prices. It sounded like a deal that was too good to be true and so it turned out.

The way that the system works is that you are provided with a USB “dongle” and music can only be downloaded when this is inserted and the Datz software is loaded. The dongle and software is not required for playing the tracks as they are in unprotected MP3 format.

All so far so good. However, there are two major problems with Datz. The first is the limited catalogue of tracks offered and the second is the simply awful software provided for searching and downloading.

Taking the first point – the lack of tracks – I was aware of this when I signed up. It seems that two of the major labels (inc. Universal) have yet to be signed up although I was told that this should be rectified in six weeks. To give an idea of what this means in practice I did a little test. I checked the top eight listened to artists from Last.fm for myself, my two sons and my friend Dirk.  The results are at the bottom of the page but I fared best with just over 60% of the artists I listen to most included. It is clear that Datz is better for 40-something males rather than teens who like to listen to American pop-punk.

While I should have been prepared for the fact that not all artists are included what I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer awfulness of the user interface (shown above). It is basically a re-skinned Internet Explorer browser and is incredibly slow and the search options are useless. You can search by a string and you are then presented with a series of thumbnails and a short and often truncated piece of text for the artist and track but not, crucially, the album. This leads to all sorts of problems such as that shown above where there are nine (yes 9) different versions of Starship Trooper by Yes available for download – which is the one I want and what is the difference?

Tracks cannot be grouped in anyway and seem to be presented in alphabetic order. Worse still you can only download a track at a time so downloading a whole album is a real drag forcing you to go through all pages for an artist to ensure you have all tracks. And you have to be on the ball as you can only verify a track’s inclusion in an album from the cover artwork – hopeless.

All that said I have almost broken even with the tracks I have downloaded filling a few gaps in the collection. I can only hope that Datz are good to their word and the missing two labels are included soon. As for the UI it needs ripping up and starting again.

Dirk (50%)
In Out
Radiohead Bob Dylan
Nick Cave Frank Zappa
Tom Waits Twighlight Singers
The Smiths Decemberists
Alex (25%)
In Out
Nickelback Good Charlotte
Escape the Fate Busted
  All American Rejects
  Fall Out Boy
  Three Days Grace
Mat (12.5%)
In Out
Crowded House Foo Fighters
  Joe Satriani
  The Fray
  All American Rejects
  Smash Mouth
Neil (62.5%)
In Out
Genesis Del Amitri
Peter Gabriel John Mayer
Simply Read Supertramp
Neil Finn  
Crowded House  

NOTE: Some of the artists shown in the “Out” column are included in the Datz catalogue but have only a single album, Bob Dylan or example, and so cannot really be considered to be representative.