If you’re really into your music and would prefer an unlimited download subscription to picking and paying for individual tracks through something like iTunes, enter the Datz Music Lounge, which offers unlimited, DRM-free tunes for a year.

The package consists of an installable application and a USB security dongle, which allows for registration activation and kick-starts the 1-year subscription when the software is first used. The software provided allows you to browse the library of “millions” of tracks by either entering keywords, searching alphabetically by artist or track title or browsing by genre.

Aside from the main text-based search not a lot of this is helpful, unless of course you enjoy clicking through hundreds of pages and tens of thousands of tracks. There’s precious little else that contributes to the usability of the software, aside from auto-update tools and a skin-changer, if you feel the need for a different look.

Searching the catalogue is fairly quick, but we were very disappointed at the limited range of content. There’s very little here from established, mainstream artists and much of it is live tracks or cover versions, so it’s a bit of a crap-shoot as to whether your favourite artists are here at all, let alone whether you can download an entire album. Of course this is a rather subjective judgement and in fairness, Datz recommends that you check out the library online before you buy to make sure there’s enough on there to appeal. We can’t back this up strongly enough, as while some may find a decent range of content from lesser-known artists, it’s a stretch to expect that there’s enough here to outweigh the subscription price.

Moving on from this admittedly gargantuan stumbling block, the rest of the service works pretty well. Tracks are extremely quick to download (a few seconds for a 5MB file, in most cases) and they are all superb quality, with most encoded in 192kbps format. As mentioned earlier, they are DRM-free so you’re free to copy and distribute around your gadgets to your heart’s content.

Considering Datz has a rather comprehensive music library of its own, available at www.datz.com, we were surprised that the Datz Music Lounge (be very aware that there’s a distinction between the two) is such a poor, watered-down alternative. You’ll have to get a lot from the existing library to justify the outlay, even if it does last a year, and we can’t really see enough value in the “unlimited” nature of it in comparison with traditional download services to make it worth your while.

Price when reviewed:
£99.99 (1 year subscription)

The only way we could possibly recommend the Datz Music Lounge is if you browse the online catalogue to see what’s on offer and happen to see a shed-load of tracks and artists that you like. Downloads are fast, unrestricted and of good quality, but there’s so little here in terms of mainstream bands and studio albums that we think very few would consider £100 for a year’s worth of tunes worthwhile.