MusicGremlin today launched an innovative new wireless digital audio player and music download service. The company’s $300 Gremlin device can connect to nearly any Wi-Fi network and download songs from MusicGremlin’s store directly to the player—without the use of a computer. Like iTunes, individual tracks are priced at 99 cents each. The company also offers a subscription plan, which lets customers download an unlimited number of MusicGremlin’s 2 million songs for $15 per month. In addition, two Gremlin owners can share music wirelessly if they are both subscribers. The Gremlin player features an 8GB hard drive, FM receiver, 2-inch color LCD screen, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
In their review of the Gremlin device and music service posted today, the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret write:
We’ve been testing the Gremlin player and the MusicGremlin service, and we like them. The experience of downloading new music from the palm of your hand and sharing it legally with others is refreshing and fun, and can’t be done on our trusty iPods. Plus, MusicGremlin is one of the few iPod competitors we’ve encountered that shares Apple’s strong dedication to a smooth, end-to-end experience, where the hardware, software and online service work seamlessly.
However, this first version of the Gremlin has some major rough spots, in its user interface and in its wireless behavior, that detract from the experience and can get downright annoying. The company promises to fix these, but some other limitations can’t be repaired as easily. For instance, the magic doesn’t work if you aren’t in range of a Wi-Fi network you can use. And limitations imposed on MusicGremlin by the record labels mean that you can’t share certain kinds of songs, including legally obtained MP3 files that you transfer to the Gremlin from your computer.