Slacker Radio, Spotify, and other streaming audio services make it incredibly simple for music fans to listen to tunes on Web-connected smart phones and tablets, but the audience’s enjoyment is directly tied to those services’ number of licensed songs, on-demand capabilities, music curation, and other vital elements. If all those parts aren’t in place, the listening experience is kaput. Style Jukebox free Android app (also available on iOS and Windows Phone), on the other hand, lets you stream 1,000 of your own audio files from the company’s servers to Web-connected devices. Style Jukebox works well, but a few flaws keep it from greatness.
Formats, Storage, and Price
To get started with Style Jukebox, you upload AAC, MP3, and WMA files from your Mac or PC (from a folder, Dropbox, or SkyDrive/OneDrive to the Style Jukebox servers, using the desktop app. If you choose to create a dedicated Style Jukebox account, you start with a 250-song storage capacity; if you choose to log-in with your Facebook credentials, you can go up to 300 songs. Although Style Jukebox promises that you can upload 1,000 audio files, you have to earn that additional storage by installing the app on your smart phone, tweeting about the service, and performing other actions. I didn’t like that I had to become an unofficial member of Style Jukebox’s marketing team to make steps toward the promised storage amount—that feels tacky. On the other hand, that is for the free account. The premium account demands similar actions.
Whereas free Style Jukebox accounts let you store 1,000 tracks and link two mobile devices, premium accounts ($2.99 per month, or $24.99 per year) let you store 20,000 tracks, link 10 devices, and stream lossless audio files such as FLAC and M4A (ALAC). By comparison, you’d pay at least $3.99 per month for Slacker’s on-demand streaming (and that doesn’t guarantee that every song that you want to hear is available due to licensing deals).
Amazon Cloud Player, a rival app, doesn’t count songs purchased from the Amazon MP3 store against your 5GB of storage (it also supports FLAC, OGG, WAV, and other formats). If you have large amounts of Amazon tracks in your collection, you’ll want to download Cloud Player simply for the additional storage space.
The Style Jukebox Experience
Swiping from left to right opens an easy-to-navigate menu that lets you view songs, albums, playlists, and tinker with settings. Tapping a song’s name streamed audio from the Style Jukebox servers to my Samsung Galaxy Note II smart phone. The music playback began near-instantaneously over both 4G and Wi-Fi connections. Audio streamed smoothly to my ears, but I detected a loss in audio quality while listening to 3rd Bass’ “Pop Goes the Weasel” and other tracks. Upgrading to a premium account remedied that issue, as I was able to stream lossless tracks, but I think it’s a bit much to hide decent file formats behind a paywall.
Style Jukebox options let you shuffle and loop track as you would with other audio players, and downloaded streaming songs to your device for offline playback by tapping the “Download” icon in the upper-right corner of the audio playback screen—useful if you want to keep the good times going when you can’t connect to a wireless signal.
Should You Fire Up the Jukebox?
Style Jukebox is a simple, effective way to listen to your favorite songs from anywhere you can connect a mobile device to a wireless Internet connection, but it drops the ball when it comes to metering out storage based on small tasks and placing lossless files behind a paywall. Still, if you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for Slacker of Spotify to listen to your personal collection while on the go, Style Jukebox is a solid choice.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc