As much of a tech geek as I am, there are many times I’m slow to adapt, or often meet something new with derision. I’ve been rather reluctant to embrace ereaders, smart phones, tablets and cloud computing. All of that is slowly changing. I have a smart phone (LG Optimus V with Android version 2.2-best phone I ever had), looking into an ereader, and coming to terms with cloud computing.

Well, cloud computing with a caveat-when it relates to music only right now. Sure it’s handy to backup data using drop box or some other service in case my laptop crashes. It keeps me from losing my work, but I don’t always have access to the internet. My broadband connection can be spotty at times, and the 3G on my phone doesn’t always stay connected (nor is there always a wifi spot nearby).

However, Amazon and Google are changing that. When Amazon came out with its cloud service for music a few months ago, I signed up but honestly never did anything with it. Then about two weeks ago Lady Gaga’s album went on sale for 99 cents. I snapped it up and started playing around with it. When I first purchased the album I was given the choice of downloading it to my hard drive or stream it with their cloud service. As a result of my purchase I was also given 20 gigs of space to upload my own music. It’s important to note that at this time Amazon isn’t charging me for that space, as it’s good for a year. (Pricing for it can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/learnmore/ref=sa_menu_acd_lrn2).  After downloading a small program it then scans my drive for music and then uploads it to their servers. I then have my choice of streaming my music to my laptop or to my phone (another download that takes a minute to install).  Any music you purchase from Amazon does not count towards the 20 gig storage; an incentive to buy music from them (aside from them being cheaper than iTunes).  My only problem is any music you purchased in the past from Amazon does count-because you have to upload it to them. I’d gladly get rid of the ability to download the music and keep it in the cloud if it included past purchases.

Google Music Beta works the same way.  The only difference is Google has no music store yet, and given some of the problems they have with negotiating with the record labels, may never have. I love the interface for Google music, much better than the somewhat clunky interface that Amazon has.  Both take the same amount of time to upload music files, which only goes as fast as your connection allows. If you have a lot of music it could take several hours. For the sake of testing I just used one album and it took about 20 minutes. Since Google’s service is in beta, there’s no charges, but I expect that to change in the future. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the amount you can upload to Google right now, and looking through the website doesn’t provide any info on this (www.music.google.com).

Once you have the music uploaded, and the apps installed the service works beautifully. I had no hiccups or pauses during the streaming and little lag between songs.

There are things I like and dislike about both, and ideally would love to see the two services combined to make one kick ass program. I also want a million dollars too, but none of that will happen.

Here’s the problem with these services and it has nothing to do with them as much as it does with the phone carriers. Streaming does two things: it can eat your battery life (mine went from 100% charge to 80 with about 2 hours of listening) and it eats your bandwidth. With virtually all carriers having some kind of data cap, it makes streaming music-whether from these apps, slacker, pandora or even movies, a very expensive proposition. There are some unlimited data plans on various carriers though they do throttle you after you reach a certain point. That more than anything else is what keeps me from wholeheartedly embracing the idea.

With 4G and LTE being rolled out, all of which have true inlimited capacity-right now-the devices capable of using them, and the areas they’re available are pretty limited.

The success or failure of cloud music isn’t going to be the products themselves, but the inability to even use them as much as we want.

Edited to add: at this time both services are only available in the U.S.

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