Napster 2.0 - A Review

Napster.com may disappoint many of the "old-school" Napster fans in it's rebirth from the legal troubles which plagued in during it's "hey-day". However, Roxio has done a fairly good job with the Napster name by providing downloadable Windows Media Audio (WMA) files to the public without requiring costly monthly fees or subscriptions. Unfortunately; like most Pay-to-Play services today- they have to provide some type of content protection (DRM) to keep their downloads legal and keep the RIAA off their back.

Napster's back

With this service; you pay to download WMA files to your computer which can then be played or burned to AudioCD using Microsoft's Media player. Each Download costs cost $0.99 per track. Pick and choose which tracks you want from a CD or if you desire purchase the entire CDs for $9.95. Napster claims to have over 500,000 songs available. Their large selection comes from all 5 major labels; but  there are some missing artists. This site does not need a free trial and provides 30 second samples of the tracks available for purchase.

Hint: Unprotect Napster.com's WMA files using this Tutorial.

Executive Summary:

Napster 2.0 gets 6 out of 10 stars for their current offering.

Pros:

Cons:

Detail:

Service Napster 2.0
URL http://www.napster.com
Criteria Sub Criteria Specifics Score Total Possible score Notes:
Overall 5.8 10
Compatibility 1.75 3
  Format 0.55 1
    Open / Standard Format 0.3 0.5 Copy Protected WMA files
    Digital Rights 0.25 0.5 Ideally, no copy protection.. But most tracks seem to have fair use.
  Application Compatibility 0.5 1
    Default format supported by CDMaster32 0 1 WMA isn't supported in CDMaster32 due to Licensing restrictions.
    Audio CD Format 0.5 0.5
  Portability 0.7 1
    Burn AudioCDs 0.5 0.5 Supported if allowed via DRM
    Portable non-CD Devices 0.2 0.25 Some supported via Media Player
    MP3CD Format 0 0.25
Costs 2 4
  Service Fee 0.9 1
    Up-front Costs or Per Month 0.5 0.5
    None 0.5 0.5 Standard service is free.
    <$10 0.33
    $10-$20 0.25
    >$20   0
    Number of Plans 0.15 0.25
    N/A 0.25
    >2 0.2
    2 0.15 0.15 Also offers Premium service for $9.95
    1   0.05
    Type of Plan 0.25 0.25 No upfront costs.
    Unlimited 0.25 0.25
    Per Month 0.1
    Per Year 0.1
  Downloads   0.35 1
    Cost To Download 0.1 0.5 Tracks cost $0.99 / track or $9.95 / album.
    Unlimited 0.5
    limited 0.25
    pay per 0.1 0.1
    none / on server   0
    Available Players for Downloads 0.25 0.5
    Supplied / Proprietary 0
    Standard 0.25 0.25
    Any   0.5
  Burn Cost To Burn Audio CDs 0.5 1
    N/A 0
    0-$0.50 1
    $0.51-$0.99 0.5 0.5 Tracks seem to be capped at $0.99 per track.
    >$0.99   0.25
  Free Trial   0.25 1
    No Trial 0
    Sample Access 0.25 0.25 30second samples available for free
    Full Access < 7days 0.5
    Full Access > 7days   1
Availability 2.05 3
Selection 1 1.5
  Number of Labels 0.25 0.5
  All 0.5
  5 major 0.25 0.25 Napster claims they have extensive agreements with all five major labels.
  Single   0
  Selection of Songs 0.75 1
  All 1
  Most Popular 0.75 0.75 Napster claims more than 500,000 tracks are available in their catalog.
  Some Popular 0.5
  Mostly Rare   0.25
File Rights 0.5 0.5
  All Files have Same rights 0.5 0.5 All tracks seems to have the same rights.
  Varies by Plan 0.25
  Varies per Track 0.12
  Listen only / No rights   0
Song Database 0.3 0.5
  Free / Open Search 0.06 0.1 Looses points for not having a WWW-based search. But finding music using their app seems to be free.
  Detailed Artist / Song Info 0.06 0.1 Provides limited information. No where near the detail provided by Rhapsody.
  Cross Reference Similar Artist / Music 0.18 0.2 CrossReference appears to be Member controlled.
  Exportable data   0.1
Interface 0.25 0.5
  Web Based Browsing 0.5
  Proprietary Application 0.25 0.25 Service requires use of their application.

Review Date: 12/7/2003
Copyright 2003 by Zittware.com
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copying prohibited!

Napster 2.0 Review