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Music Phones December 28, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, life.

We have a way to go. At some point the phone and the iPod will be one. There was a review of cell phones that play music on the NYTimes today. I’m sure prompted by the rumors of a apple phone announcement by Jobs in a few weeks. None of them looked even close to what I’d buy. 100 song limit? Come on! And they don’t connected up to either iTunes or any of the subscription services out there! My phone, not designed to do music playing, does better than those. But it doesn’t do it good enough.

I purchased my Cingular 2125 phone with the idea of having it double as my mp3 player. At the time my 2 year old 20 gig hard drive player from Creative had failed. I figured that with a 2 gig SD slot, so I figured that would work well enough. Most of the time I listen to music on a plane or while riding my bike — so quality isn’t that important in noisy environments. I can really compress the music and I can fit 20 or 30 hours onto the phone. Further, since it is a Windows mobile phone, it knows how to do DRM and can play all the music form my Yahoo subscription service. And it was nice and small, a requirement for my cell phones.

It didn’t work.

It turns out that I like to listen to music in enough quiet situations that I really needed the high quality. I also can be quite moody — I want as much of my music collection available as possible. 2 gigs of storage is just not enough. I now have a Gigabeat S, which 60 gigs. I keep both video and music on it, and I’m very happy with that solution.

But you can see where this is going. A cool thing about Windows mobile is that you can download and run programs on it. You can stream music from the internet. I have often listened to internet radio stations on it, and I use orb to access my home collection. But Cingular’s network coverage is a bit patchy to really make this a working solution. Sitting in a cafe with good coverage this solution was fantastic. Biking 5 miles to work — not. While in Europe a friend of mine had a 3G phone and that “just worked.” It also had integrated wifi so that he could easily use it when near a wifi hotzone. Of course, in Europe, you don’t have to spend the crazy $40 bucks a month for unlimited data service that you do here in the US (at least, at Cingular). I think whoever hits this sweet spot first is going to have a huge hit on their hands.



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