Napster v iTunes

Napster logoiTunes and Napster represent two of the biggest subscription or pay-per-download music sites out there. But which one would you choose? If you’ve got an iPod, it’s a no brainer – it has to be iTunes because it’s the only music downloading application you can use to listen to songs on your portable device. However, if it’s choice or value for money you are looking for, then Napster arguably offers the better deal albeit for files that are protected by DRM.

Let’s look at a brief breakdown of the major differences between the two giants:

External devices: If you have a generic Mp3 player, then you’re almost certainly better to go for Napster. However, you need to be sure that it can play WMA files before you can be certain it will play your downloads. One solution is to use Mediamonkey to convert files to the format of your choice. Or, you can always simply burn your Napster tunes to CD, load them into iTunes and rip them to Mp3.

iTunes logoQuality: Napster wins as it now offers songs at 192kps compared to iTunes 128kbs. This takes up more space on your device but offers higher quality sound. To be fair to iTunes, the EMI back-catalogue is now available at 256kbs, but while that’s a lot of music it also costs more than regular tunes.

Value for Money: iTunes offers downloads for 99 cents a song or $9.99 an album. Napster meanwhile offers a full subscription of $9.95 a month allowing you perform unlimited downloads. On the downside however, you never really ‘own’ the tracks with Napster. You have to return to the site every 30 days or so to ‘refresh’ your rights to the songs.

Functionality: Both have easy to use, attractive interfaces and quick downloads. Napster however allows you to search for a song and then an artist within the same genre while iTunes does not although it does offer ‘iMixes’.

For most users, the decision will simply come down to a matter of what kind of external device they listen to their music on. If however, you simply can’t decide which one to get then you can always go back to what they used to do in the good-ol’-days – and buy a record from a music store.

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