Advantages Vast searchable archive of music, not all to expensive, very smooth site, reasonable P&P.
Disadvantages Cheaper chart CDs available, a couple of minor design flaws.
Music dot.coms have had the field to themselves for a long time, but the relatively recent arrival of High Street heavyweight HMV into the arena has shifted the balance of power considerably in one swoop. In particular, as this opinion is being written, hmv.co.uk has just undergone a redesign which has addressed many of the problems I raised in my original opinion.In general, hmv.co.uk is the online arm of HMV, the record shop, selling identical products. As well as a vast selection of CDs, the site also prominently features DVDs, VHS tapes and to a lesser but growing extent, computer games. This wide array of goods makes the site an attractive option to many who may well find their entire entertainment needs catered for in this one site.
The website itself has benefitted immeasurably from the redesign. I originally criticised the site for its awful loading times and numerous security and payment problems, but these have all been addressed more than adequately. In fact, I would rank hmv.co.uk as one of the most impressive sites on the net. It's like one of those impossibly obese people you see on the WeightWatchers adverts that sheds thirty stones in three weeks. You just can't believe that something that was once so rubbish is now so cool.It has a very clean and attractive look, using a simple white and blue colour scheme which doesn't force itself down your throat as many do. Browsing the site should be intuitive to most using the familiar navigation bar at the top of every screen (praise the Lord, the frames have gone), while the traditional layout of sub-contents to the left of the screen is also used. Put together this creates a very appealing site which I felt at home with after only minutes.
The key improvements made to the site are numerous, but of most interest to potential shoppers would be the inclusion of more obviously secure transactions. The site is VeriSign approved, a standard on the web, which should reassure those who like myself were a little wary of using what was originally a very rusty system. Personally, I now have every confidence in the site, encouraged by the funky little box popping up telling me I'm now operating across a secure connection.The site is also now much faster to load, mainly down to the riddance of frames which were once the major downfall. Now loading only a single page every time (rather than the ludicrous number of yesteryear), you will notice a measured benefit over the old site. This works not only to the consumer's benefit - allowing you to get to where you're going quicker - but to HMV's as well, as customers are encouraged to browse longer when they feel they are getting a fast response from the site.
Being the online arm of HMV gives the site an enormous advantage through the huge back catalogue and stocks the company has access to. Only the most in-demand items tend to go out of stock, and it is a nice touch to see the site openly advertise this fact when they know an item is currently unavailable.
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