Being an avid lover of gadgets, I got a bit excited when Electric Jukebox contacted me and asked if they could send me their impressive-looking digital media player. It boasts an incredibly simple setup and a very intuitive user experience, but at £169 you’re certainly paying a premium for the simplicity. Is it worth it?
Electric Jukebox – First Impressions
There’s no getting away from it – when I received the parcel I was impressed with the packaging (it matters), then again when I opened the box and saw the Electric Jukebox itself. Build quality accounts for that all important first-impression for me.
I pressed a button on the controller when I was taking it out of the box and was surprised to feel a sturdy, solid vibrate from it.
One of the main marketing points of Electric Jukebox is the simplicity of the setup process. I have to agree here, it’s foolproof. The dongle plugs into a free HDMI port on your TV, then into the mains (though this could induce some anxiety in those of you that are wire-conscious like me!). That’s it, physically. It’s that simple. I do think the power cable could be a bit longer though, for those of us that don’t have a socket right next to our TV).
Turning the TV on and switching to the correct source yielded a screen full of colour and user-friendly text. I intuitively used the remote like a Wii controller and entered my WiFi password. A short message was displayed about the Music Pass T&C, and once I’d agreed to that it was up and running. I’d say from start to finish, including WiFi password time, it took two minutes to set up.
After the quick setup, I was greeted with the home screen. It’s pretty self explanatory from this point on – I won’t bore you with how to type in an artist or search for an album.
However, there is one function that deserves its own mention – the voice search. If you looked at the remote and thought “that looks like a microphone” then you’d be right, it is. Only for voice search though, not for the more obvious purpose of karaoke – although it remains to be seen whether that will surface as a firmware update along the line.
About that voice search – I tried it. Everyone knows that awkward moment when someone says “say something” and you draw a blank, but somehow I searched for ACDC, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars with the remote telling me it couldn’t find any results. Weird!
It eventually found a result when I searched for “Spice Girls” – but it thought Luciano Pavorotti was a member of the spice girls. Teething problems perhaps?
By design there are few choices available on the home screen. This is a breath of fresh air to be honest – and really lends itself to the family-feel of the device. Nobody wants to sit there figuring stuff out when there’s a room full of people waiting to hear a song.
The motion remote makes it easy to type in – though I did notice a small amount of lag when compared to the Smart Remote on my Samsung TV. I’m not sure I would have noticed this if I wasn’t used to using the Samsung remote, though.
There are curated playlists from famous people like Robbie Williams, Sheryl Crow, Stephen Fry and Alesha Dixon. If that’s your thing. I can’t say I’m too bothered by that.
If you’ve used any online music subscription service (looking at you Spotify, Apple music, Google Play, Deezer, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Music Unlimited…yeah, it goes on a bit) then you will intuitively know how to use this.
One of the main questions I found myself asking when I got this product was “Well, what’s unique about it?”.
I think the primary selling point for Electric Jukebox is its simplicity. Anyone considering this will have, at some point, thought “well I can play Spotify through my smart TV”. They would, of course, be right. But imagine that at a house party with semi-inebriated guests – Electric Jukebox pops with colours and icons and pure simplicity. That’s what will make this product sell. It’s fun to do in a group and being drunk is no barrier.
I like the hardware here, it’s very well built and a lot of thought has gone into the design – which shows in how intuitive it is. I’m personally a fan of the non-removable battery (with a micro USB charging port). The interface through the TV is smooth, intuitive and works just as you’d expect – with the exception of my voice recognition farce. Perhaps that’s a Liverpudlian thing though, we’ll never know for sure.
Is it worth the price? I can’t honestly say it is. £169 is a high initial layout for a product that just plays music through your TV. There is also the annual subscription charge of £52 for the Music Pass after the first year – but you can use the device without this, much the same way you can Spotify without paying – although there will be adverts and limitations.
If this were £100 or less then I would recommend it, but at its current price I don’t think you’re going to get what you pay for.