The focus for PlayNow plus falls upon its mobility nature, i.e. the ease of getting music over-the-air (OTA) in under a minute. Achieving this requires a different approach as what other online music stores are offering in the market, such as Apple's iTunes Store and the Nokia Music Store. And that lies within the encoding nature of the songs within the library. Songs that are downloaded OTA will generally have reduced bitrates (eAAC+, 24kbps) to minimize downloading times. With each track at approximately within the 1MB range, you can download songs at a fraction of the time as compared to 'full quality' tracks. Perchance you are more nitpicky with your audio experience, you can also opt to download songs in near CD quality with the AAC+ format at 48kbps bitrate.
So what one really needs to know, is the audio quality that comes with these downsized audio clips. We were able to get a feel of the audio quality on the W705 with a downloaded track (using the supplied inner earphones with the phone), and came away feeling pleased with its performance. For the common man on the street, the music experience shouldn't be a letdown, seeing as how it still retains the general clarity of a CD quality song (on the phone, that is).
It is interesting to note that Sony Ericsson has also taken the gist of a social networking concept and applied it onto the PlayNow plus service. With a growing community of PlayNow plus users, you can also find out who listens to the same genre as you do under the Soulmates list. Of course, like any social networking sites, you can add Friends and send them song recommendations. Beyond the user-generated activity within the community, there's also a News section that's updated by Sony Ericsson's own team, which provides updated music news. These specific news bites will also provide you with access to the songs, albums and artistes mentioned within, which serves to create a growing interest for consumers keen on the latest music updates and happenings.
While the PlayNow plus service is built around the mobile device, the unlimited music service does come with its PC client too. As we've mentioned earlier, side-loading is not supported on the PlayNow plus service, which brings in the question: how does one transfer songs from your phone to your PC? In short, you can't. Imagine yourself walking down the street, and you hear a catchy tune from the radio. You managed to find the song, and you download it on your mobile. What's the next likely step? Listening to it on your PC too. But without synchronization of that particular track or even sending a link to your PC client to download, it makes us wonder if side-loading should have been included to complete the user experience.