Cape Town - Simfy launches on Monday and it's great for music in South Africa because the service is local and has a strong representation of South African artists in its 18 million song library.
Simply put, Simfy is a streaming/download music service, which allows you to stream music or download it to your PC, Android or iPhone smartphone for R60 a month.
If you download the music, it allows you to play it while you're not online, but you'll have to have an active account and you can't play the music through other music players.
The desktop player and the Android app which I tested were really easy to use. There's some nice functionality showing you what music is popular, what is newly released and it offers a genre break down too.
The search function is pretty good and usually gets you to what you're looking for within a few clicks and once you've found music you like, you can add it to your favourites or even create your own playlists.
These of course are available across your devices, which means if you create playlists on your PC, it'll be on the Simfy app on your phone too.
I've tested the library out by giving my phone to a number of people and asking them to search for music they think is hard to find. Most of the time Simfy had what they were looking for.
Simfy can automatically post to your social media channels or let you choose which songs you want to share.
What I've done with Simfy is set it up on my HTC One X, which connects to the HTC Media Link plugged into my TV. I can then play music through my home entertainment system. This gives me almost any artist on tap, whenever I want it. For R60 a month it's not a bad deal.
The not so good
I deliberately have not said the bad, because Simfy is a great service and I highly recommend it. However, there are some “buts” you must be aware of.
Simfy is a streaming service and requires a broadband connection to work sufficiently. I have a 10 Mbps ADSL line at home and it's more than sufficient. Songs buffer really quickly and I suspect that even a 1 Mbps line will probably do just fine with Simfy on a streaming level. Simfy says 384 Kbps will work too.
If you're wanting to download music, then faster is always better, as the file sizes are quite large.
Moving from line speed to bandwidth, I am also on Telkom's Do Uncapped product so I don't worry about bandwidth, but if you're on a capped account then you're looking at about 85MB/hour when streaming (tracks are encoded at 192kbit/s).
So if you listen to nine hours of music a week through Simfy you're looking at about 3GB of data a month. If you have multiple people in the family using it, you'll obviously go through more data.
The service did not work on an edge connection for me so you'll likely need 3G or higher and the Wi-Fi on the other side of my house to the router was not sufficient for streaming. ADSL will provide you a more stable streaming rate as it has better contention ratios.
Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Phone apps will hopefully come down the line too, which is limiting as Android and iOS only currently have about a ten percent market share in South Africa.
Simfy is a fantastic product at a great price and opens up the world of music for R720 a year. I recommend it highly, but suggest it's better suited to people with ADSL lines at home or stable mobile broadband connections. - Do Gaming.