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HMV’s little dog and gramophone has become quite the icon over the years. But long gone are the days of vinyl for most of us and HMV’s break into the world of MP3 downloads is decent but nothing particularly special.
By far the best thing about HMV’s MP3 downloads site is its constant stream of music which keeps you tapping along as you click the mouse. You can find an album you’re interested in, click the ‘play’ button and have short clips from the album stream, one after another, as your browse the site. This adds a great energy to what is often a pretty dull process (browsing through lists of songs). HMV digital is also a reasonably priced site. Its tracks are affordable and buying albums offers a discount over buying their individual component songs. In fact some of the songs aren’t available to download unless you buy the whole album, which is bad if there’s just one song you want (that happens to be excluded from individual download) but quite a nice bonus if you want the whole album.
The site is simple to navigate, though there is a lot of text on each screen which is a little daunting, particularly given that so much of it is florescent pink. Its browsing options aren’t bad; primarily based on genre browsing, there are also quick tabs which link you to its various track and album charts. It lacks a search “by price” function, however, which is always handy for finding music at a budget. HMV digital hardly goes beyond being an online store, with almost no attention to information about music, interviews or blog posts and in that sense it feels like it lacks spirit. Its music software is free and allows you to stream tunes, even letting you link them to your myspace page and have your favourite tracks stream on your profile page. However, little information on the functions of the software is available, even after installation. Continuing in the theme of ‘little information’ is its ‘help’ section, which offers almost no help at all but does have a small contact form for you to fill in should the need take you.
HMV digital is a fine site for buying popular modern music at a fairly standard price but its lack of features and support leave you feeling a bit like that little dog staring into the empty face of a gramophone.
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