Review: Elpis lets you jam to Pandora with zero fuss and maximum fun
At a Glance
Pandora: An endless font of good music. More recent arrivals on the music streaming scene may look cooler (Spotify, I'm looking at you), but Pandora's music-matching engine is unsurpassed, at least for me. I just give it an artist name or a track title, and it comes back with hours of fun music I can tweak to my heart's content. If only its Web interface were as good as its engine–but alas, random Flash browser crashes often mar the fun. This is where Elpis comes in. This free, high-quality desktop Pandora client makes the experience just about perfect.
I've been using Elpis for over a year now. When it first came out, one of its best features was its ability to circumvent Pandora's geographic restrictions. This was later removed (Pandora patched the loophole that made it possible), but Elpis remained an excellent client. In a nutshell: Endless streaming (it never nags to see if you're still listening), slick hotkey support, and it can even automatically pause the music when you lock your workstation.
Elpis doesn't play or show any ads, either, which means you're expected to be honest and pay Pandora for the ad-free service you're essentially getting with Elpis. In fact, Elpis creator Adam Haile offers his application for free, but asked me to urge readers to purchase a Pandora One subscription ($36 per year) if they enjoy Elpis.
The interface itself isn't standard Windows, and may be a bit of an acquired taste: It's black, flat, and custom. New songs slide into view as they start playing, and the various screens slide in and out of view. It almost feels like a Modern (Metro) application, which is interesting because that's the way it looked like since long before Windows 8 came out. (Elpis is not officially supported on Windows 8, but I've used it on Windows 8 without any problems.) Even as a paying Pandora client, you might prefer Elpis because it feels more minimalistic than the official Pandora desktop client.
Just like on Pandora, each song has Like and Dislike buttons. It also has a slide-out menu that lets you tell Pandora you're tired of this particular song for now (though you don't dislike it), buy the song, or create a new station based on the song or its artist.
Because Elpis lets you enjoy such a pristine Pandora experience on the desktop, it leaves you with no practical reason to buy a Pandora One subscription–but there is that matter of honesty.
All in all, Elpis is absolutely the best free way to enjoy Pandora on the desktop today. It's simple, lightweight, and can get you hooked on Pandora again if you've strayed to other services. For a fun music experience, look no further.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. Elpis is offered free of charge, but developer Adam Haile does accept donations.