Pandora's Box

Surrounded as we are here by ear splitting home theatres, blaring televisions and noisy gadgets, we often find that donning a set of headphones and listening to some music is rather crucial to maintaining our sanity at work.

However, we are often confronted by the age old problem that plagues music buffs anywhere - we simply run out of good music to play. Pandora.com may just be the answer to our prayers.

Pandora is a brilliantly designed flash based site that essentially streams music over the internet. But that's not all - you actually type in the name of the song or artist you like and Pandora creates a 'radio station' that finds and plays similar sounding songs by that artist and others.

Thus if you typed in 'Dean Martin', your radio station would play songs by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Engelbert Humperdinck - amongst others. If you like a song that's been played, you give it the 'thumbs up' by clicking on it and Pandora will play similar tracks. If you give a song the 'thumbs down', it will immediately skip to the next track.

Pandora
Pandora in action

The great thing about Pandora is that it's free, but as always there is a catch. We don't know about you, but when we like a song, we repeatedly play it over and over again until we (and everyone else unlucky enough to be around us) are thoroughly sick of it. Unfortunately, there is no 'rewind' option on Pandora, so if you hear a song you like, you can't play it again.

All is not lost however, as when you left click on the song name, you have option of either buying the song from iTunes or buying the entire album from Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can just add the song to your 'Favorites' list which is another handy feature. The other restriction is that you can't continuously skip through tracks until you find one you like, as you can only skip through a certain number per hour.

Perhaps the last issue with Pandora is that eventually, all the music on a radio stations ends up sounding the same as this is what the program does - it finds similar music. Still, you can seemingly create an unlimited amount of radio stations to cover the full range of your musical tastes and in the few weeks we've been using it, we've heard tracks by fantastic artists we never would've known about.

With its elegant interface, broad musical coverage and no price tag, Pandora.com gets a big thumbs up from the GoodGearGuide.

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Nigel Freitas

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