A Review of the 7digital Music Service

7digital Music Service - Reviewed

Image © 2009 Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

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Introduction

The UK-based 7digital media provider, which also has services in the U.S.,Canada, Germany, Ireland, France, and several other European countries is a digital media delivery service that was launch in 2004. It offers a varied catalog of music, videos, audiobooks, soundtracks, and a selection of free downloads.

Pros

  • High-quality music downloads encoded at 192 kbps or higher
  • Digital music locker keeps your music safe
  • Well designed website that is easy to use

Cons

  • Not all tracks are DRM-free

Service Features

Digital Music Delivery

7digital's business model is solely an a la carte system that you can use without having to pay a subscription fee every month. This has the big advantage of providing you with a service that lets you decide how often you purchase media.

Pricing Structure

  • $0.77 on average for single tracks.
  • $7.77 for albums.

Website Content
7digital's music catalog is comparable to other a la carte services such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Napster and the content is strong in terms of quality. It hosts over 6 million music tracks that cover a decent number of genres, and there are also audiobooks, videos, and movies. The browse facilities on the website are good but unfortunately there's no way to browse through the different genres; this would have made navigating the site so much easier.

That said, when you do select a track or album, there is a suggestions box that shows you other albums and tracks that you may be interested in that are in the same genre. The search facility at the top of the screen allows you to type in a song, album, or artist name with further advanced options to fine-tune your search.

Previewing Songs and Albums
As with most digital media services, 7digital provides you with 30-second music clips that you can use to decide if you want to buy a particular track; albums also have track lists that have 30-second clips. Clicking on the track preview icon plays the streaming audio clip in the browser-embedded music player; it can also play a whole album with intelligent use of playlists. The player has several useful functions such as the usual volume control, previous/next track, and play/pause buttons.

Purchasing Music
Buying music and other types of media from 7digital is easy thanks to the well-designed user-interface on their website. An excellent feature is being able to choose the audio format and quality (bitrate) setting of the tracks before you buy. Next to each track or album is an icon that you use to add it to your basket. Once you are happy with your selections you can then proceed to the checkout. There are various payment methods available which are, credit/debit card, PayPal, and others.

Digital Locker
One of the best features of the 7digital media service for us was the discovery of a personal digital locker. Every media file that you purchase is stored in your locker for safe keeping.

The other useful feature is that most non-DRM purchases often give you the choice of formats to download onto your computer; great if you've got an iPod and want to download an MP3 as an AAC instead. Having the security of all your purchases backed up is a great feature that gets our vote.

Software

7digital Download Manager
This is a small download manager that works in conjunction with your digital locker. After installation, the download manager runs in the background and helps you to download the files from your digital locker. Either choose a selection of files or download all of them in one go.

During testing, the software ran seamlessly with the browser and made downloading easy.

Technical Details

Audio Formats

  • MP3
  • AAC (DRM-free)
  • WMA with DRM copy protection
  • FLAC

Video Formats

  • MPEG4
  • WMV

Bitstream Rates

  • MP3 (192/256/320 kbps)
  • AAC (192/320 kbps )
  • WMA (192 kbps)
  • MPEG4 (1 Mbps (video) / 128 kbps (audio))
  • WMV (1mbps+ (video) / 128kbps (audio))

Conclusion

7digital offers a high-quality service that makes purchasing music, videos, movies, and audiobooks hassle-free. The website is well-designed, user-friendly, and packed with features. An excellent digital locker gives you peace-of-mind and is a great disaster recovery tool just in case your computer decides to go south resulting in you losing all your purchased music; simply download them all again.

Even though 7digital is a great service to use and the music that you buy generally has a high bitrate, it does have its downsides. The problem is that there isn't quite enough content at the moment to truly rival the big guns such as the iTunes Store, Amazon MP3, and Napster. Essentially, if high-quality downloads are important to you and you like the idea of all your purchased downloads being safely stored in a personal digital locker then 7digital is worth considering.

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