NormSoft has established themselves
as a purveyor of quality Palm OS software since 1999. I’ve
used their CryptInfo for
some years now to keep my passwords and other sensitive information
safe. Consequently, I expected Pocket Tunes to be a quality
product and was not disappointed.
Pocket Tunes supports skins, so its appearance
varies widely. I pictured the default skin, which supports
the T3 at 320x480 in the main screen, but interestingly not
in the file list screen which would benefit most from the
extra screen. Although I’m sure other skins also support
the DIA, I didn’t spend much time looking for them.
The typical controls hold prominent positions on the display,
along with the current tune’s name, playing time, and
encoding parameters. The middle area can have data on the
song playing as shown above, or the list of songs in the
current play list. Like AeroPlayer, Pocket Tunes supports
Configuration options abound in Pocket
Tunes. The menus hold such goodies as time delay before turning
off the screen and LED blinking thereafter, volume boost,
background play, how to bring up the console, bookmarks (deluxe
version), skin selection, how to handle low battery conditions,
and crossface settings (deluxe only). Pocket Tunes Deluxe
uniquely offers crossfade between songs, and lets you tailor
the transition time. Crossfade takes a bit of extra memory--about
192K per second of fade.
The Pocket Tunes console can pop up at
any time to advance/retreat in the song list, pause play,
or change the volume. You may also launch Pocket Tunes from
the console. This handy feature provides access to key music
controls, and launches either through dragging between silk
screen buttons or using hard buttons. This isn’t quite
as handy on a T3 as using the command stroke because the
most users hide the T3 silk screen and other apps/functions
already occupy the hard buttons.
In the end, audio players must provide
great sound. Pocket Tunes sounds good without boost, about
the same as the other players as one might expect. The bass
boost implementation comes through a 10-band equalizer, but
uses the MP3 decoding trick discussed in the AeroPlayer review.
That means two things: 1) only MP3s can be boosted; and 2)
distortion becomes an issue. How much of an issue? That seems
to vary with the encoding bit rate. At 96 kbps, distortion
became very distracting at around +3dB or so during loud
passages or at the frequency extremes at high volume levels.
At 128 kbps, you can get another dB or so out of the equalizer
before distortion becomes distracting. That performance didn’t
impress me at all. Encoding at higher bit rates eats up room
on the card, so I didn’t carry my testing any further.
Ogg Vorbis files cannot be equalized/boosted, although they
sound a tiny bit cleaner than unboosted MP3s in Pocket Tunes.
If you consider good bass boost important, Pocket Tunes will
probably disappoint you.
In addition to bookmarks, crossfade, and
gapless playback, the deluxe version adds the ability to
play streaming audio from ShoutCast.
This requires an Internet-capable Palm OS PDA and a good
mobile Internet connection. Not having such a device, I couldn’t
test this capability directly. ShoutCast consists of a free
network of servers broadcasting streaming MP3s at various
bit rates using Nullsoft’s free Winamp software.
The network looks pretty extensive and sounded great on my
home system over a cable modem at 128 kbps. Of course, mobile
users will have to pay their mobile network charges to access
the service. Very neat capability, though--like a radio in
At $12.95 for the basic version (available
as shareware) or $24.95 for the deluxe version, Pocket Tunes
provides a quality audio player as long as you don’t
need audio augmentation/bass boost. The Shoutcast audio streaming
support provides a nifty capability for wireless Internet
connected devices if you can afford the air time.
Some Palm DIA support
Nice pop-up console
Plays MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV files
Crossfade and Shoutcast streaming audio support in the deluxe version
Excessive distortion above minimal
equalizer boost levels
Equalizer augmentation limited to MP3s