Disclosure: I was offered a free seven-day premium membership to Playster in order to get to know the service. Some information included in this post is available in Playster’s press kit. This is a compensated review. Compensation does not influence my opinion.
I was recently invited to check out Playster, a new service that provides a single source for every kind of online entertainment: movies, music, games, and books (e-books and audiobooks). In its own words, here’s what it offers:
Find everything you’re looking for – music, movies, books and games,
From timeless classics to the newest blockbusters.
Get unlimited access to millions of titles and counting. Spend as long as you like enjoying your favorite titles and discovering new things.
Bundling your movies, music, books and games together saves you money.
Easy to use and compatible with virtually any web-enabled device,
Playster’s movies and music range across a variety of genres, but at this time, many of its offerings are backlist and/or less-familiar titles from smaller labels and studios. I would expect its partnerships in these areas to expand to include more current brand-name content down the road; for now, those who enjoy browsing and random discovery might find the selection intriguing. (I don’t play computer games, so I can’t speak to the quantity or quality of Playster’s game catalog and would be unlikely to use that component of the service)
Playster’s publishing partners include HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Harlequin. The ebook selection is wide-ranging, but again, it’s heavily backlist; I recognized a few titles in the “New Releases” section from last year, and the New York Times Bestsellers may have been on that list some time ago. This isn’t necessarily a weakness–after all, most streaming services offer primarily backlist content, and the only truly “new” stuff on Netflix is its own original productions–but you should be aware that you might not find last month’s “it” book on Playster just yet.
Audiobooks are the most recent addition to Playster–they’ve just launched within the last couple of weeks. The selection in this category made the best impression on me–there’s current content, and I spotted quite a few titles I’ve either already read or plan to read soon–and I’m sure it will expand and get even better over time.
Playster is still in beta and, therefore, a work in progress, but I think it shows a lot of promise, The convenience of a one-stop, one-payment shop for such a variety of entertainment is undeniable, and as Playster’s offerings expand, I’m sure its value will as well. That said, you should consider whether or not it’s a good fit for the ways you consume entertainment. There are three ways it’s not an ideal fit for me right now:
I rarely browse for online entertainment or shopping–I usually go to a site or open an app looking for something specific. If I don’t find what I came for, I may do a little searching for something related, but I tend to be quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options that browsing without an agenda can yield…and so I quit. I’m just not “discovery”-oriented. I “discover” entertainment by hearing or reading about it elsewhere, which then sends me off to look for it.
I read ebooks and audiobooks through apps (I have several for each). Playster’s iOS app is still going through Apple’s approval process, and there’s no projected launch date yet. Its website is mobile-friendly, but for now, iPhone and iPad users will be reading, playing, and watching their Playster media in Safari (or other preferred browser). Android users can get Playster’s app for that platform now at Google Play.
With some exceptions (mentioned next), Playster’s content is streaming and not available for download. I read ebooks on my iPad, and listen to audiobooks on my iPhone in the car. My iPad is WiFi only, so I’d be unable to read Playster ebooks anywhere I wasn’t connected. And without WiFi in the car, I’d need to stream audiobooks via my cellphone signal, which can be unreliable. (They’d also eat into my cellphone data plan, which could get expensive.)
Games on Playster are available for download now. Offline access to other content should be available via the Android app by the time you read this, and Playster is working on enabling that for all platforms soon.
The first two items I mentioned aren’t dealbreakers, but the third really doesn’t work for me. I’m fine with streaming music or video, but because of the way I read them, I want to be able to download my books. I’m glad to know that’s on the way.
I appreciated the opportunity to explore Playster. I’m not sure it’ll be for me until that offline content and iOS app are ready, but it could be just great for you right now. If you’d like to check out Playster for yourself, please use this referral link to sign up for their 30-day free trial subscription!
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