Panasonic's 49p music downloads

On your marks, get set. And go! You've got til Sunday to take advantage of Panny's new music store and its 49p-a-song offer. Stick that in your 79p cakehole, Napster 

Panasonic's finally taken the plunge and launched a  music download service.

MusicStream joins the ranks of Windows Media stores such as Napster, Tesco and MSN, kicking off with a firesale - all tracks bought by August 7th will only cost 49p.

The pricing after Sunday is still to be confirmed, though the site's 750,000 128kbps WMA songs are expected to cost in the region of 79-99p each.

A quick Stuff tour around the site - it's at www.panasonicmusicstream.com - reveals it to be Windows-only, dull-looking and devoid of Napster-type editorial comment. To download tracks, you also have to download Panasonic's Music Manager software - the site's not compatible with Windows Media Player 10's 'digital mall'. It is, however, easy to navigate.

The other string to MusicStream's bow is that it links through to Panasonic's online shop for seven new Panny MP3 players, the cheapest being a £100 256MB job. The others are flash or SD-based; most have FM tuners and one of the players is intriguingly described as 'digital'. Are the others analogue?

While we're impressed by Panny's 49p-a-song offer, MusicStream's going to have its work cut out to compete with Napster - which has a far better music selection and community features - and Tesco, which sells WMA music in higher quality 192kbps files.

www.panasonicmusicstream.com

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