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Review: Pocket Tunes Deluxe 5.0

 

If you haven’t been using Pocket Tunes 4.1, you’ve been missing out. In my opinion, PocketTunes is one of the few truly powerful media players for Windows Mobile. Offering synchronization with iTunes, Internet radio and support for different skins, Pocket Tunes has been on my must-have list ever since it was first released for Windows Mobile.

If you remember (or want to read) my review of Version 4.1, there were a couple of issues we wanted resolved. I’m guessing that the folks at Normsoft were listening; because they took care of the biggest issues that I had, as well as resolving some issues that I hadn’t even thought about.

Read on for all the updates in Version 5.0.

Internet radio

One of the big things that Normsoft was marketing the last time around was its support of Internet radio. Pocket Tunes 4.1 did an admirable job handling this, but it took it to the next level with 5.0. The first reason is the fact that Normsoft included support for stations that use the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format. This reason by itself is a huge draw for me, as this greatly expands the available options.

The second thing that Pocket Tunes 5 gives you with Internet radio is access to your Last.fm account. Last.fm is a “Web 2.0” service that learns what music you enjoy listening to in order to make suggestions to you on what other music you may like. Last.fm also allows you to add a list of tracks that you have listened to recently to your blog or social networking profile.

Podcasts

When Normsoft first released Pocket Tunes for Windows Mobile, podcasting was the big service that was left out. Version 5.0 does include some impressive Podcasting functionality that definitely makes this a must-have upgrade. Podcasts can be streamed or downloaded directly to your device. My one complaint is that I’m don't see an obvious way to mark different episodes for download. This is an issue to me when I add a new podcast and want to go back a few episodes so that I don’t miss anything.

On a side note, I’m really liking the idea of using CT Scheduler (check out our review) to start Pocket Tunes overnight so that all of my podcasts download while I’m sleeping. I love technology.

Audio Books

Another thing that was apparently an issue with version 4.1 of Pocket Tunes cropped up when a user listened to multiple audio books. The issue was that if you didn’t finish one book, started another, and then came back to the first one, you position in the track was lost. Apparently this issue has been fixed.

Music

Who knew? Pocket Tunes plays music as well! Syncing your music from iTunes was supported in the previous release; the bonus here is that now you can actually get your playlists across using Pocket Tunes Sync. Normsoft also claims increased audio quality and an improved equalizer. I’ll let you make that judgment for yourself.

Conclusion

I really thought that version 4.1 was a must-have, so this upgrade is really a no-brainer for me. The podcasting support is my favorite new feature, with the WMA streaming and iTunes playlist sync coming in right behind. If you’re in the market for a new audio player, a 15-day trial is available from Normsoft. In addition, if you do decide to pull the trigger on the purchase, a 15-day money-back guarantee is offered. Purchase Pocket Tunes 5.0 here for $37.95, or upgrade from Versions 3 or 4 for $19.95.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Internet Radio: 4.5
  • Podcasts: 4
  • Audio Books: 5
  • Music: 5

Overall:

Pros

  • Supports streaming and downloading of Podcasts
  • Syncs iTunes Playlists
  • Last.fm support
  • WMA streaming support
  • Remembers position in multiple Audio Books

Cons

  • Podcast management interface not as intuitive as it should be

 

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Comments

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says:

Just loaded this up on my phone, and I've already got a couple observations.

1) Podcast sync from iTunes - really, this needs to be setup so I can sync specific podcasts, not just "all or nothing". I have a VERY large podcast repository and frankly not all of it needs to be on my phone's memory card. As I live in Canada, I don't dare run Pocket Tunes as a podcatcher, instead I let them queue up on my notebook and sync it across. Unlimited data plans aren't actually unlimited here.

2) iTunes sync to memory card would be nice. Pull the SD Micro out and shove it in the (much faster) SD slot for the initial load, or when I have a lot of data to sync. Waiting 78 minutes for the first sync really bites.

3) I can't find an obvious way to exclude certain folders, so I'm ending up with Ringtones on my SD card showing up in the music library. I can block out Internal Memory but I want to say "skip this folder" when searching.

Still I've got 14 days to determine if I want to drop some coin on this, and the initial gut feeling is that I will. I'd love to see some video support added in the future so I can watch video podcasts like Diggnation and such on the go.

Tim Ferrill says:

Awesome input Gregory.

You hit the nail on the head. iTunes support still has a LONG way to go. Video support would be nice, but I'm guessing that this will remain an Audio only application.

says:

I hate the fact that trial version wont support WMA or Last.fm streaming, so there goes all new added radio stations and features you should try. Podcast listing is not up to par. Search option would be nice in podcasts because i hate the fact that I have to find address for each podcast and type in, if its not listed. I still like Kinoma and I think with new version Pocket tunes did not have enough features to change my opinion. Thanks for your review but please mention that trial is not full trial and big features are locked in until you purchase.

Tim Ferrill says:

Thanks for pointing out that the trial doesn't support WMA. I had missed that little tidbit.

As for Last.fm, the full version does not support streaming (at least not yet). Scrobbling and the associated benefits are the benefit here.

says:

So you are unable to search a podcast directory from the device?

Tim Ferrill says:

There is a podcast search feature, but I'm not sure what it's searching. For example, the WMExperts podcast cannot be found using the search.

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