Saturday, August 22, 2015

Trying out new things: Audible and DramaFever

In the past week, I've decided to give two different services a try: Audible and DramaFever.


I admit, I signed up for this primarily because I've been wanting to listen to the audiobook versions of Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch books, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to get them through my library.

The free trial is available with the Gold Monthly Membership, which is $14.95/month. The membership benefits that interested me the most were the 1 credit per month and 30% off additional Audible purchases.

Before I logged in, it looked like I could get both Imperial Radch books read by Adjoa Andoh via Audible. Unfortunately, the site is a little deceiving - the version of Ancillary Justice read by Andoh disappeared after I logged in, leaving only the one read by Celeste Ciulla and Ancillary Sword read by Adjoa Andoh. I used my free trial credit on Ancillary Sword but the sample of Ciulla's reading of Ancillary Justice grated on my ears so much that I doubt I'll be getting that. I haven't decided yet if I'll continue my membership past the free trial. I'll have to look through the catalog for a bit and see what would be worth getting with credits or the 30% membership discount. Happily, according to the site anything I get during my membership should stay in my library if I decide to end my membership.

Even if I continue my membership, I imagine that library checkouts will still provide the bulk of my audiobook listening. Audible seems like a nice option for those audiobooks I would either have difficulty getting via the library (for example, audiobooks put out by my favorite self-published authors) or ones that I know I'd probably be interested in listening to multiple times.


DramaFever has more Korean dramas than anything else, but I also saw Taiwanese, Chinese, Latino, and British shows and movies as I was browsing their catalog. At least part of the site could be used for free, with ads, but I prefer to watch things on my TV, and the DramaFever Samsung Smart TV app only works with a premium membership.

If DramaFever sounds at all interesting to you, I'd recommend jumping on it right now, because they're currently having a sale. From now until the end of the month, you can get an annual Premium membership for 40% off. DramaFever was too expensive for me at its original price, but with the current deal it cost less than what I used to pay for Crunchyroll. I liked that the membership started with a free trial, because it allowed me to see how well their app worked on my TV.

A few months ago, I tried out the Viki app (another K-drama streaming service). I thought it was okay, but it had drawbacks like commercials and an inability to restart shows where I had stopped them during a previous viewing period. I was surprised to learn that paying for a membership would not improve the app in any way - there would still be commercials, and the functionality would be the same.

Happily, the DramaFever app is much nicer. So far, I've watched a short series called Aftermath and am over halfway through a Taiwanese adaptation of Skip Beat. Just like with Netflix, you can continue watching an episode from whatever point you previously stopped it.

I should note that I haven't tested how well the app does if you're trying to watch multiple series at the same time. It does have some features that are perfect if you prefer to binge watch a single series at a time, however. For example, when you restart the app, the first thing that comes up is a screen asking if you'd like to continue with the last show you were watching when you exited the app. I also like that the next episode in a show autostarts after you're finished with the previous one.

The app has been a little glitchy. Sometimes pressing the "stop" button on my remote stops an episode, and sometimes it kicks me completely out of the app. Also, the app once refused to let me go back to the catalog - it was either continue watching the episode I was on, or get kicked out of the app. However, it's worked well enough for me that I'll allow my membership to continue past the short free trial period.


  1. One of the things I did like about Audible, when I gave it a try a few months ago, was the ability to change the speed at which the audiobook played. I was a little concerned about whether or not I'd be able to finish a normally-13.75-hour audiobook in time for a book club meeting. So I increased the speed to 1.5 times the normal rate. This worked fine with that particular narrator's voice, maybe even made the book a little better, but it might not work for all narrators. I also liked the feature that allowed me to "rewind" 30 seconds (multiple times if need be) to catch a part I missed or wanted to listen to again.

    Still - the kind of audiobooks I like to listen to are still readily available on CD at libraries (and also sometimes at one of my four Overdrive libraries), so at $14.95 a month, I did not keep my Audible membership. I would pick it up again though if I needed to listen to a particular book by a deadline and couldn't get the audio any other way.

    1. Ooh, I hadn't noticed that you could increase the speed. I don't know that I'd want to do that in most cases, since the point of my audiobooks is to give me something to listen to, for as long as possible, while working, but it's something to keep in mind if I think a narrator in a sample is decent but speaks too slow.

      I have a feeling that Audible will be one of those things I'll start up and drop as necessary, since I'm more of a print/e-book person and would prefer to put more of my money into that. I'm just happy to finally have Ancillary Sword, which I imagine I'll be listening to more than once considering that I've already read my paper copy twice in the last couple months.

    2. I think you can also slow down the speed if the reader is talking too fast. :) I think I miss the 30-second rewind (which you can hit multiple times to rewind 60, 90, etc. seconds) as sometimes my mind wanders a little and I need to re-listen to something, but not necessarily the whole designated segment.