7 ways to listen to Pandora without a web browser
One of the oldest and most feature-packed desktop Pandora clients is OpenPandora (picture above), which we first mentioned back in 2006. OpenPandora lets you do pretty much everything you can do at Pandora.com including listening to multiple stations, using the QuickMix feature, and giving songs a thumbs up or down. OpenPandora also has a few features that most other clients lack, like a mini-player mode that just displays the player/pause, volume, and next track buttons. It also packs a built-in proxy feature allowing users outside of the US to access Pandora and global hotkey shortcuts allowing you to control playback while OpenPandora hides in your system tray.
PandoraBrowse lacks some of the features of OpenPandora and Pandora's Box. It pretty much lets you access the Pandora web service without a browser. Nothing more, nothing less. And unlike most of the other applications on this list, the developer has added some extra advertising to the browser. But PandoraBrowse makes up for those shortcomings by being light-weight. Don't get us wrong, each of these applications is going to eat up a ton of RAM. But you can either install PandoraBrowse or download an 80kb executable file that can be run from a flash drive. And we love portable applications.
At its heart, Pandora was built to be a web service. But why open up a memory-hogging application like Firefox just to access a memory-hogging web service like Pandora? While the other applications on this list are built specifically for accessing Pandora, Mozilla Prism is built for accessing any web service using a stripped down, bare bones version of Mozilla's Firefox web browser. Any page you can access in Firefox, you can access with Prism, but Prism uses far less memory. Prism also works pretty well with Pandora, since it allows you to access the full web page, and not just the player controls.
You know, they say that opening Pandora's Box is a bad thing. But honestly, we haven't found that to be the case. Pandora's Box is simple yet sturdy standalone player for Windows. It doesn't have quite as many features as OpenPandora. For example, while you can configure Pandora's Box to use a proxy server, the process is much more complicated than with OpenPandora. But Pandora's Box is quite stable, includes controls that can be used from the taskbar while the application is playing in thebackground, and allows you to log songs you like.
Windows users don't get to have all the fun. PandoraBoy is an excellent Pandora client for OS X. PandoraBoy lets you control Pandora using your Mac's global hotkeys, Apple Scipts, or even an Apple Remote. PandoraBoy also supports Growl for displaying song information including artist, title, and album.
Like PandoraBoy, the Pandora Dashboard Widget is designed for OS X. But you probably guessed that by its name. You can access the widget from your Dashboard, and it has the look and feel of a native Mac application. But it's reportedly something of a system hog. While that's true of most of the Pandora clients on this list, users report that this Dashboard Widget can eat up hundreds of megabytes of memory.
Once we discovered that there was an OS X Dashboard widget, we figured finding widgets/gadgets for other platforms would be a breeze. But there doesn't seem to be a Vista or Google Gadget, or a Yahoo! Widget. There is, however a Pandora Radio Widget for the Opera web browser. Yeah, we know we said we were going to look at ways to run Pandora without a web browser, but we figured this widget was worth an honorable mention, since it provides a way to access Pandora without visiting Pandora.com. All you have to do is click the install button and you can get your share of Pandora-ey goodness on your desktop even when the Opera web browser is minimized.
If you're fine with having a web browser open all day, but don't feel like leaving a Pandora tab open, there are also Pandora widgets that you can add to web pages like iGoogle and Facebook.
We're sure we've probably left a few methods for listening to Pandora out. So let us know in the comments, how do you get your Pandora fix?