The purpose of Wednesday Resource Reviews is to help listeners and potential listeners compare and contrast the many audiobook listening resources available to them.
I will test as many of these resources as possible and relay my first-hand experiences in an effort to help you find an audiobook resource/service that best fits you.
Wednesday Resource Reviews are purely based on my subjective experience and information available on the web, from other listeners, or from someone representing the resource (i.e. customer service).
All types of resources will be reviewed, including those from free audiobook sources. However, illegal sources (such as those violating copyright laws) will not be reviewed.
•Format: Streaming & Download
•Type of Service: Subscription
•Selection: 100,000+ titles
For the past several months, TuneIn Premium has been my audiobook service of choice. However, I’ve been experiencing more and more technical issues with the service lately. So when I saw the magic word *unlimited* appear in conjunction with another audiobook service, I dove in head first. I’m currently near the end of a 30-day free trial with Playster and have used it to listen to my last few audiobooks. Full disclosure, I’m only using Playster to hear audiobooks, not partake in any other type of entertainment.
Playster shares a lot of similarities with TuneIn Premium. They both offer unlimited audiobooks, as well as other forms of entertainment. They’re both reasonably priced and cheaper than Audible, especially when considering the unlimited selections. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either service. The trick is finding which of them works best for you.
If you’re a hardcore listener like me, you probably aren’t even reading this line because you already jumped ship and headed over to sign up upon seeing the word unlimited. That word signals an all-you-can-eat buffet for audiobook listeners, but because of that, unlimited audiobook services have become akin to the Holy Grail. Most services offering unlimited listening aren’t sustainable long-term, so I’m going to echo what I said in my TuneIn review: Don’t. Waste. Time. Sign up now and fill your plate. Get a doggy bag, if you have to.
Fun for the Whole Fam Damily
By far, the most notable thing about Playster’s service is that (with the right package) you can get so much more than just audiobooks. TuneIn Premium has a little of this going on, offering music and podcasts, but Playster is taking the multimedia experience to a new level. Playster offers games, music, movies, books, and audiobooks all packaged together for just $24.95 a month. That’s only $10 dollars more than you’re paying for one audiobook at Audible. Ridiculous, isn’t it?
Playster calls itself the Netflix of entertainment and I have to agree. Playster allows you to create individual profiles within your account (similar to Netflix), so multiple members of your family can share the account without intruding on each others’ experiences. Even better, multiple people can enjoy Playster at the same time (on separate devices). You could, theoretically (I don’t know you), be in your car listening to an audiobook, while your spouse is in the living room watching a movie, your son is upstairs playing games, and your daughter is listening to music- all through Playster. Congrats, you’ve just become a 21st-century family!
Plentiful Pluses and Minor Minuses
In case you haven’t picked up on it, there’s a lot more that’s right with this service than is wrong with it. Even though it may be technically more expensive than TuneIn, you end up getting more than your moneys worth with Playster. Another big advantage Playster has over TuneIn is the ability to download titles. An audiobook listener’s primary complaint with TuneIn is likely to surround the amount of data eaten up when streaming books. TuneIn doesn’t have downloading capabilities, but Playster does.
Playster also wins the tech battle, in my opinion. The app still isn’t up to Audible, Audiobooks.com, or Scribd standards where audiobooks are concerned, but it beats TuneIn’s app in all areas but one:
Browsing. I can’t for the life of me figure out how effectively browse for audiobooks via Playster. Instead of regular genres, Playster divides audiobooks into “moods” and “playlists”. The only genre list I could find was sparse by comparison. This isn’t to say that their audiobooks selection is sparse, however. Just about any title you search for can be found, but my point is that you have to manually search for it. I find most of my listens simply by happening upon them and enjoy browsing just to see what’s available. But because I can’t decipher Playster’s navigation system, I don’t even know what great titles I’m missing out on.
Other than that, I’m still giving Playster’s app the win over TuneIn’s (although, in fairness, TuneIn has made a lot of improvements). Both apps regularly crash, but Playster at least gives you the opportunity to bookmark your spot. And there’s that whole downloading thing which makes it an easy win for Playster.
Nickels and Dimes
I always include a separate section for price comparison when doing service reviews. I’m a very budget-conscious person and I believe that indulging an audiobook habit shouldn’t break the bank. Technically speaking, Playster comes in at third place in the price department, behind TuneIn and Scribd*. Just for the Playster audiobook package (not the multimedia bundle), it’s $14.95/month. The regular price of TuneIn’s Premium monthly package is $7.99 and the annual price is $69.99, which breaks down to about $5.83/month. Scribd is only $8.99 a month, but that’s just for one audiobook credit.
Here’s where you have to decide what type of experience you want. As far as audiobook listening goes, you can’t beat TuneIn’s $5.83/month deal. But if you’re looking for a multimedia experience the whole family can enjoy, Playster has got you covered.
What I love:
• Downloading: If device storage space isn’t a problem, downloading your books is the way to go. It saves you from getting a nasty surprise in the form of your mobile bill every month and is great for commuters and on-the-go listeners. No Wi-Fi required.
• Profiles: Playster doesn’t just allow you to share your account with friends and family, they encourage it! Each of you can have an individual profile to keep your experiences customized to your own tastes. This may be my favorite part of Playster’s service. It’s what gives it the ultimate edge of over TuneIn, in my opinion.
• Selection: Playster has a title selection comparable with Audiobooks.com, better than Scribd, and nearly as good as Audible. Oh, and it blows TuneIn’s selection out of the water. The selection was my primary reason for giving Playster a try. I was content with TuneIn Premium until I realized that Playster had many of the books I was looking for.
• Multimedia Experience: Playster has something for everyone and they’re making a hard play at becoming the favorite member of your family. Can’t decide between Netflix or an audiobook subscription? Bundle that sh*t up and get it all. Problem solved.
• Unlimited Audiobooks: Playster is one of only two services that I know of currently offering all-you-can hear audiobooks and their selection far outweighs the competition. This is perfect for someone like me who easily hears 8+ audiobooks each month.
• Affordability: Let’s hope that Playster doesn’t come to their senses anytime soon and start charging a lot more for 100,000+ unlimited audiobooks. Because they easily could… and I would probably pay it. This is the best deal around for the selection.
What I don’t:
• Browsing System: I’m far from being a technological superstar, but I’m not a newbie either. Although Playster’s app and website are much more user-friendly than TuneIn’s, their attempt at novelty has backfired. I don’t want “moods” or “playlists” to be my primary mode of navigation when browsing for a new listen. I want traditional genres, in plainly laid out and easily accessible lists. I also want to be able to access their entire audiobook catalog via these lists, not just those trending that month or selected by the editors. Get it together, people.
• Frequent App Glitches: I realize that these issues are likely to be resolved in future app updates, but the glitches and crashes occur with enough regularity to be noted here. Again, it’s nowhere as bad as those experienced by the TuneIn app. Once listening, the experience is fairly smooth. It’s mainly the start up that’s the problem. In total perspective, this is really just a minor complaint that I’m sure will be sorted out eventually.
I’m seriously considering making the switch to Playster once my annual TuneIn Premium subscription is up (assuming I can wait that long). I usually make my decision based on money alone, but Playster makes a strong case for quality over quantity.