Untitled Document
Napster V2.0 Beta 7
us: now
europe: now
japan: now
web site:


13:sept//2K - napster V2.0 beta 7


Napster is causing a lot of controversy at the moment and with that and mind I decided it was about time I tried the service out. I'm not a great fan of the whole MP3 format, I prefer my music a rack rather than on my hard disk - as people who read the Mini Disc v. MP3 feature will be well aware.

Personally I don't really approve of the whole piracy thing - if I can afford to buy something that I want I will, rather than attempt to get it for free or get hold of a bootleg copy. However, I have been known to indulge occasionally and when I had an Amiga ( I was 10), my software library included up to 200 titles not all of them paid for.

However, I always felt and still do that I wasn't really cheating anyone - If I liked the pirated version there was a good chance I would buy the next installment of the series. For example, originally I had a pirated copy of Civilization but I liked it so much I bought it and then I also purchased Colonization, Civilization 2, Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire. I am eagerly awaiting the release of Civilization 3 so I can buy that also - if it hadn't been for that first pirated copy I never would have bought the other games.

The same is true with regards to music, if someone lent me a CD I would record it for myself and if I liked the band a lot I would buy their future releases. I've lost count of the number of first albums I have that are pirated but the follow ups are genuine.

Napster expands on this principle, instead of having just the relatively merge resources of your friends to draw on - you can now get hold of music you want from anyone around the world. Of course there are people who are going to exploit this system so that they never need buy any music ever again but I would hope that most people are of the same mindset as myself.

The program is fairly simple to use - you set yourself up an account and they off you go. Buttons at the top of the screen allow you to search for tracks and albums, chat to people, monitor transfers and a whole heap of other stuff. Basically if you can manage to surf the web, Napster will be instantly familiar.

Downloads are dependent on the speed of your connection - on a standard 56K modem you can expect the average length track to take twenty minutes to half an hour to download. Napster will really come into its own once broadband arrives and frankly I can not wait.

Searching is quite interesting, results are depended on whether differing users are online - sometimes you can search for a track and return hundreds and the next time you might not get any. This is quite annoying, especially if you like music which is unpopular in your home country (as I do) - it leaves me unable to get hold of tracks unless I'm on in the middle of the night when the Americans are online. Even then it can be hit and miss and I would prefer it gave you a listen of tracks that are available and told you when (on average) you can expect to see that user on the service.

That is my only niggle really, MP3 quality isn't really an issue as you can see for yourself before downloading hat the quality of the file is like and choose one that you are happy with.

Once the file is on your computer you can either play it from there, download it into an MP3 player or as I do, record out via the speaker socket to Mini Disc - either way you have access to a far broader range of music than you otherwise might. How else are you supposed to come across such classics as William Shatner's version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"? (I'm just joking by the way - it is an amusing track however...).

If you haven't tried the service it is time you did and certainly get in there and get hold of all the tracks you have been searching for without success for ages before the music industry manage (if they manage) to close the service down. Anyway, who wants Radiohead's Kid A a month before it is released? - Platinum Banana

//agi. [agi@fsmail.net]