Top Music Streaming Services: A Review

top music streaming servicesWhen is the last time you purchased a hard copy version of your favorite album? Most of us would have to think back years to remember the last CD we purchased. Other than the novelty of buying something material, there is not much we miss about the “old days” of music consumption. Today’s listeners enjoy online music streaming features like playlist creation, offline streaming, multi-device streaming, increased sound quality and songs catalogues that typically range from 15 – 30 million titles. Let’s take a look at some of the top streaming services and what makes them unique.

A Review of Top Music Streaming Services

Tidal

Launched by musician Jay-Z, it is no wonder that Tidal offers the highest sound quality available through any streaming service. Tidal’s $19.99 per-month subscription offers 1,411 kbps (kilo bites per second) of data transfer – the highest quality available across all music streaming platforms. The $19.99 monthly fee may be a little tough for some to swallow but for those who are true music lovers with the speakers to show it, this service makes a lot of sense. If you are interested in the Tidal platform (25 million song library, 75,000 music videos, playlist creation, offline listening) but you’re not ready for a $19.99 expense each month, you can still have good quality sound with 320 kbps for $9.99 per month.

Songza

Songza is not just a music streaming site but a music recommendation site as well. The unique feature of this service is that music is only searchable by mood, activity, genre or time of day. If you want to expand your music horizons but you’re not sure where to turn, turn to Songza. The service is not available offline but is FREE with ads or $.99 without ads. You are also limited to only 6 song skips per week with ads or 12 without ads. Considering that there is a free option, Songza is a great, quirky way to supplement your other paid music streaming services. You never know what artist you might find out you love!

Slacker

If you are looking for the best all-around internet radio service, Slacker might be it!  Obviously there is no shortage of internet radio providers but what makes Slacker standout from the rest is its curated playlists that are created by real people along with their non-music channels such as sports, news and weather. For paying subscribers ($9.99/month), you can search specific artists and stream playlists and albums offline.

Google Play Music

In our opinion, Google Play Music is the only real rival to the market leader, Spotify. Google Play Music has a song catalogue of 30 million, has offline listening feature, a concierge service, and 320 kbps. What sets Google apart as a streaming service is the ability for users to upload up to 20,000 tracks that can be stored and listened to on any device, anywhere in the world. There is only 1 option for use which is a monthly subscription fee of $9.99, which currently also gets you a subscription to YouTube Music Key.

Spotify

There is a reason Spotify is currently dominating the market of music streaming and that is because they are the best and easiest to use platform all-around. With 30 million songs in its library, one-click save ability for albums and songs, drag and drop playlist creation, concierge playlists, and music uploads up to 10,000 songs, Spotify is sure to be a contender on everyone’s list. What sets it apart is its easy to use interface; in every review we read, the positive comments consistently praise the usability of the service, ease of finding playlists and the comprehensive search feature. The down side? Well, if you’re a T-Swift fan, you won’t find any of her music on the platform along with The XX or Radiohead’s albums after 2011. But if that’s something you can live without, it’s a great service that will cost you $9.99 per month for a premium membership. If you choose the free version, you will forgo the offline listening, smartphone listening and 320 kbps features.

There are plenty more streaming platforms we could have reviewed. However, with these 5 options, we are confident you will find the right platform to match your music listening needs.

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Outdoor Lighting Trends for 2017

Outdoor Lighting Trends for your Outdoor EntertainingWhen the weather is nice, everyone wants to be outdoors; whether splashing by the pool, enjoying s’mores by the fire, or cocktails under the stars with friends. Outdoor entertaining is a hot trend, and in recent years, has become more and more of a possibility for the average homeowner. One of the hottest trends in outdoor entertaining, helping to bring all the comforts of the indoors, outside, is outdoor lighting.

Why Outdoor Lighting?

Ask any restaurant owner or event planner and they will tell you that the right lighting can work wonders for any space or event. If you are planning an outdoor entertainment space, the significance of the lighting becomes even more obvious. You want to make sure that your lighting can be controlled and adjusted to suit all levels of natural light. This is where having a central hub to control all of your outdoor lighting becomes essential. Imagine as the sun begins to set, and you want to up the lighting levels, walking around the space adjusting each light individually. Not ideal when you are trying to be an engaged host. Luckily, smart hubs are becoming more common and there are a variety of options to choose from in the market today.

A concern among many interior/outdoor designers when it comes to outdoor lighting is the aesthetics associated with the light fixtures. Fortunately, within the last few years, more and more options have surfaced for aesthetically pleasing outdoor light fixtures. Outdoor fixtures now have natural finishes in a variety of colors that blend into the space’s surroundings. Options vary from neutral stone finishes to blend in with the stone of the outdoor space to fixtures that can hide discretely in the plants and greenery surrounding the space. If your budget can accommodate it and the space design calls for it, you can even have custom fixtures made that match the color of your home’s exterior color.

LED lights have become the most widely used option for outdoor lighting schemes for many reasons. To start with, they use very little energy to run and are a great, cost efficient option for homeowners. They also offer a variety of color options. Solar power is also a strong, trendy option for outdoor lighting. Why not choose an option that is low to no cost and essentially recharges itself? This is a wonderful, eco-friendly option that is a huge hit in outdoor design.

An important aspect of outdoor lighting that we do not want to overlook is the safety/security of your lighting design. A basic concept for outdoor safety is to make sure all walkways and stairways are well lit (e.g. home to pool, home to seating, etc.). If you are planning outdoor lighting, it’s a no brainer to include some security features such as motion sensor flood lights; probably the most practical of all the outdoor lighting trends.

We enjoy our outdoor projects as much as those indoors. Have questions about lighting your outdoor entertaining space? Contact us!

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AirTV Player Streaming to your TV

AirTV PlayerAirTV just might be our favorite thing to happen to television since Chromecast. If you are a television lover, you’re going to want to listen up! AirTV is the latest product from Dish Network; its launch was leaked last December and officially announced at this year’s CES. Continue reading

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Touchscreen Smart Hub

Touchscreen Smart HubWhile it is arguable that voice control is the new UI (User Interface), there is still a large segment of the consumer population that prefers touch to talk. Many consumers also prefer visuals to audio, which is why touchscreens are not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, they are getting bigger and better. Samsung recently launched a 20.5 inch LCD touchscreen smart hub on the door of a refrigerator (Family Hub Refrigerator). Reviews on the Family Hub Refrigerator are disappointing but not because of the touchscreen, which supports the theory that touchscreens are still highly valued in current tech trends. Continue reading

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Smart Outdoor Entertaining

Smart Outdoor Entertaining TechWith summer just around the corner, it is only fitting that we included a piece on Smart Outdoor Entertaining. A rising trend among homebuyers is an interest in functional outdoor spaces. In other words, they want to use their backyard for more than just a play set and place for the Fido to relieve himself. What do homeowners have in mind? Outdoor kitchen spaces, weatherproof televisions and speaker systems. Today’s consumers don’t just want these spaces to function, they want them to be high-tech and integrated with the rest of their home. Continue reading

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Smart HVAC System: Why You’ll Want One for Your Home

Smart HVAC System: Why You'll Want One for Your HomeWelcome to our 3rd post in our Smart Home series. Today’s topic perhaps has the broadest scope of positive impacts on consumers. Smart HVAC systems can save consumers money, create levels of custom comfort, and help lower consumers’ carbon footprint. It seems that there is no way to lose by choosing a smart HVAC system. Let’s take a look at some of the top trends and capabilities in HVAC systems. Continue reading

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Smart Homes: A Smart Doorbell

Smart home smart doorbellsBy the end of 2017 you can expect to see an increase in the average homes IQ, thanks to the booming industry trend of home automation (a.k.a. Smart Homes). With so many corporate launches of new services, products and all-around better technology, we wanted to spend several weeks focusing on some of the biggest and most exciting home automation possibilities in blog series dedicated to smart homes. 

Continuing with our smart home series, let’s take a look at the future of doorbells. Not a topic you think you’d be interested in? Give us a few moments to convince you. Continue reading

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Smart Homes: Start with a Smart Hub

Best smart home hubsBy the end of 2017, you can expect to see an increase in the average home’s IQ, thanks to the booming industry trend of home automation (a.k.a. smart homes). With so many corporate launches of new services, products and all-around better technology, we wanted to spend several weeks focusing on some of the biggest and most exciting home automation possibilities in a blog series dedicated to smart homes.   Continue reading

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Dish Network Sees the Future

Dish Network hit a few home runs at the 2017 CES with their unveiling of AirTV, Dish Anywhere and the first peek at their Alexa integrated voice control. These three services will eventually decimate consumers’ needs for Dish’s current and traditional service offerings, but Dish has no need to worry as they are set to tap into a new generation of consumers. Continue reading

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3 Home Theater “Must Haves” in 2017

For consumers who made a New Year Resolution to have more fun, a home theater system is a great way to check another resolution off the list. Or it could just be a good excuse to start a little home improvement project.

If you’re in the market to create for a new home theater or dedicated media room space in your home, we have three recommendations for setups that will be on-trend in 2017, and beyond! Continue reading

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