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My experience with Sony Connect

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Today, I finally got around to trying out Sony’s online music service Connect. A few days ago, I was in a McDonald’s, eating a Big Mac, and they are giving out free songs from Connect as a promotion.

First off, the installation went fairly well, a pretty clean install process (and I’ve been through many software installs that were not). The software seems to bind itself to a specific machine through some mechanism (I’m not immediately sure as to how — perhaps to the Intel processor identification code?). Accordingly, I don’t think that anything I would download using Connect would work on another Connect-enabled machine I would also happen to own.

Opening an account (which seems to be required if you were to want to actually download any music) asks for credit card information. This wasn’t required, but it bothered me that they were even asking. I would think you might ask for a credit card if a customer actually tried to buy something — I know I don’t hand my Visa to a cashier as soon as I set foot in my local record shop.

I entered the free coupons I had from McDonald’s (I had been back once or twice since that initial outing), only to discover that you could only redeem two coupons per day. I didn’t know that there needed to be a waiting period for music downloads; the guy from Super Size Me must be furious.

With my coupons in hand (2x$.99!!), I started to hunt for some music to download. Not a lot of luck, though. No Victor Wooten at all; some Flecktones, but nothing that I didn’t already have; Norm Stockton is not represented, nor was David Dyson or Oteil Burbridge. Connect doesn’t seem to be all that bass player friendly.

I decided to check out how Connect would do with some more standards. There were some tunes from the Beatles, but not the one for which I was looking. I did grab a song from Mike Stern which I hadn’t heard before (Play, although once I did hear it, I realized that Stern had played the piece at one of the shows I have attended) and a different version of the Sting song I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Cryin’.

Once the two songs were downloaded, I found out that I can only play it within the Connect software — I can’t use my usual player. The player built into Connect is good enough and all, but Connect has a much larger footprint than WinAmp does.

For the technical geekish who might be reading, I did a little detective work on the software. I discovered where the Sony software writes the files (<user>/Application Data/Sony Corporation/SonicStage/Contents/<song name>) and the format (oma). I also found that the Connect software was written using a considerable amount of MS tools (witness the Access database file that make up the “backup”, the csv file that provides help). I haven’t taken the time to hunt through my registry to see what it did or didn’t do there, mostly because I don’t care enough to check it out. I don’t see me using this software as anything other than a way to try out music that I was already inclined to buy via these free things from McD’s. Once that promotion ends, my use of Connect will end with it.

Basically, Connect is good for previewing music and not much more. You can only listen to what you buy on the same machine on which you make the purchase. You can’t take it with you (unless it’s on a ATRAC compatible CD). Does someone want to explain to me what the positive benefits of this product would be?

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About Casper

  • TDavid

    Nice overview, Casper. I’ve been giving all my Big Mac boxes to my son. He seems to like it, so maybe their selection of music is more teen-friendly. Me? I use Napster currently.

  • Mark Hasty

    Sony gets a small pile of money? That’s the only benefit I can think of.