Amazon debuted its new cloud-based music streaming service Tuesday. It's called "Amazon Cloud Drive."
What's "the cloud"? It's basically digital storage on an Amazon hard drive and you can access this drive from any PC, laptop or Android mobile device.
So instead of having to load your music, videos and files onto all three, you free up that space and pull it down when you want to. If your computer crashes, all your music files and videos and photos are not lost with it. And even if you have a backup hard drive on site, here's a third backup for extra, extra security.
iPhone customers won't be able to use the service on their portable devices, though Apple is expected to launch its own streaming service later this year.
Downside to Amazon Cloud? On your portable devices, if you're using your data plan from your cellular provider, you can run up some expensive charges by always streaming music or especially watching videos (read: don't let your kids have at it all the time).
Also, if you don't have a great connection, you could be singing along with Janet Jackson or Lady Gaga or the Black Eyed Peas and kind of feel like I used to when my 45 records used to scratch. That is, the song will go in and out.
And I guess some folks will feel like Big Brother is watching -- or snooping around to see what you might be loading up in your digital locker.
Amazon will offer users 5 gigs for free. That's plenty for most folks. You can buy more starting at 20 gigs for $20 per year. You can get 1,000 gigs for $1,000. And if you buy an album through Amazon's MP3 store before Dec. 31, you get a one-time free updrade to the 20 gig storage level.
Users will access content through a web player that is compatible with most web browsers on PCs and Macs and there's a downloadable Android app that I pulled down and works easily.
As I said earlier, iPhone users can't use it and you can't access it through the web browser either.
If nothing else, it's a neat backup for files and a great reason to never buy a portable device with a huge hard drive and a huge price tag again. Just wish it worked with all mobile devices, including Blackberry and Windows mobile.