In a nutshell, Electric Jukebox is for people who find Spotify too complicated. Now, you may be raising your eyebrows at this point and wondering who on earth finds Spotify too complicated, but trust me, they do exist. I’ve got a couple of them in my my family, and I’m going to be sending them this Electric Jukebox once I’ve finished reviewing it.
Electric Jukebox is a music system that plugs into your TV. Plug it in, add your WiFi password and you’ve got access to millions of songs. The makers promise that you should be able to set it up within two minutes. It took us nearer to five minutes, but most of that was finding the right socket to plug it in to. Whilst it’s very straightforward, if you’re giving this to someone who’s technically challenged, stick around in case they need help getting it going.
One big plus point is that there’s no registration, credit card or personal details required, so it’s ideal for people who feel a bit suss about that sort of thing.
There’s no monthly subscription (unlike Spotify), but you do have to pay around £170 for the Electric Jukebox handset. This includes a year’s access to ad-free music. After that, you’ll have to pay around £52 per year for a Premium music pass to listen without ads. If you don’t mind the ads, then you can continue to listen for free.
The wireless controller, which comes in red, blue or black, has an in-built microphone and voice search capability. You can also point it at the screen to search – if you’ve used a Wii controller, it’s very similar. We found that the voice search wasn’t 100% reliable, or maybe it thought we had terrible taste in music and was refusing to search.
For families, there is an Explicit Content Filter to help you avoid unsuitable lyrics. And family listening is very much what Electric Jukebox is all about. With over 29 million songs on offer, the music choice varies from latest chart hits, blasts from the past, jazz, classical and everything in between.
As a family we all love music and we enjoyed rifling through this jukebox. There was nothing we looked for that wasn’t on there. Robbie Williams, Stephen Fry, Sheryl Crow and Alesha Dixon are all Celebrity Curators for the service, both on the editorial team and as shareholders. So this means that you get access to their personal playlists, which is a fun touch.
We enjoyed listening to Stephen Fry’s choices, which ranged from Johnny Cash to (sweetly) Hugh Laurie. I’d love to see more curated lists on the service like this, especially from non-musicians. You sort of know what to expect from a Robbie Williams playlist before you hear it, so I’d like to see some more left-field curators.
The jukebox doesn’t play videos, but it does have a link up with Getty so you can choose to see beautiful images along with the music. All in all it feels like quite an old-fashioned type of gadget, but then I strongly suspect that this is because it’s aimed at an older target audience.
People who are used to listening to music on their phones on the go probably won’t see the point in this. It’s better suited to listening to music as a group rather than as an individual, and it very much lends itself to family sharing and parties with friends. But for those who have yet to get into music streaming, this is an easy route.
Electric Jukebox is widely available from many retailers including Amazon, Selfridges and Argos. RRP £169