Here are some of the few online services I consider worth paying for…
I have been using this service since I first got my XBOX 360 in 2006. I was at first very sceptical about paying to play games online, after all I’ve paid for the game so shouldn’t the online play be included in the price? Having seen other free alternatives however (Steam on the PC, and of course the PlayStation network) XBOX Live seems a more cohesive service. Starting games is simple, as is inviting friends to voice chat. A nice way to waste some time on a Sunday afternoon.
£4.99 / month (I got an annual pass for about £27, look for special offers)
Audiobooks are a great way to “read” while you’re doing other things, in the gym, in the car, doing boring household chores, or sometimes just when falling asleep. The monthly subscription gives me a book each month (which when some of them are over 30 hours long, will easily last that long) and is genuinely a good way to get more reading time in. There’s an Android app, and books will play on the Kindle too.
£6.99 / month
DropBox is a neat online backup service. While Windows Live Mesh is technically superior, you can’t get more than 5GB of storage as you can with DropBox. Therefore I use it, and it’s very useful to have all your documents available wherever you are. If only the software would make is easier to sync existing folders (currently it’s a longwinded process involving symbolic links) I wouldn’t feel the need to be looking for alternatives all the time. Still, it’s a good price and the features they do have are very useful.
$9.99 USD / month
I am still on my free trial of Spotify, after having initially been sceptical about “renting” music rather than owning it. Being able to try out albums is great, and now they have offline access for mobile phones it’s actually not a bad product. I have discovered a lot of new music using sites such as BBCify, which I would never have done without Spotify. It’s a shame not al of the music labels have signed up, that is misguided in my opinion. The desktop client it a bit clunky – a classic case of “design by committee” but the underlying functionality is worth the money.
£9.99 / month