I’ve been debating how to take my music with me for some time now. I thought about getting an .MP3 player, but then I’d be carrying around 3 electronic devices on my body all the time — a cell phone, a Pocket PC, and an .MP3 player. Two is just too much already! Ack!
Then I stepped back and thought: why get a portable music player when I already have a Pocket PC? In the tests that I’ve done, playing music (with the screen turned off) for several hours, only drops the battery by 15% or so. That’s not bad at all. But storage then becomes the issue.
I could get a 4GB SD card (yes, they make them), but the cost for the card alone is greater than the cost of a similarly sized .MP3 player, and my Pocket PC probably won’t read a 4GB card.
So I purchased a 2GB mini-SD card (with SD adaptor), my Pocket PC is so old that it can’t read 2GB either, so now I’ve got a mini-SD card that I plug into an SD adaptor that I plug into a thumb-sized USB SD card reader, and I have an awkward big thumb drive — but that’s another entry.
That’s okay, my 512MB card works just fine, but it holds a relatively few number of songs. I encode all my music with (un-DRM’d) Windows Media Audio Lossless at about 600Kbps, that’s a substantially larger file than a 128Kbps .MP3, and I can’t tell the difference in most cases, but I’m a big fan of down-sampling. I know that with a larger file (with greater detail) that I can always make that smaller — but you can’t go the other way. So since my media collection is effectively the Fair Use archive of my CD collection I want the archive to be as representative of the original as possible. Sorry, that’s fodder for another post.
Back to “music in my pocket”…
So, to put music on my Pocket PC I’ve typically followed these steps.
- Pulled the SD card from my Pocket PC,
- Popped it into my USB 2.0 card reader,
- Launched Windows Media Player 10,
- Loaded up (or hurriedly created a playlist),
- Then syncronized that playlist with the SD card (which auto-magically re-encoded at a lower bit-rate then copied the smaller file to the card).
Needless to say, it’s not a speedy process, and I can’t fit more than 40 or 50 songs on the card (it holds other programs and documents as well). What to do, what to do?
So let’s try and combine all three devices into one, shall we?
- Let’s get a Pocket PC phone edition (that way we get rid of the cell phone),
- It’s (by definition) a Pocket PC, okay, there’s two devices in one
- The new Pocket PCs can read the larger cards, so now I’ll be able to use my 2GB mini-SD card
That will give me quite a few more songs, but still, I’ve got over 50GB of music at home (I know, I know, some of you are laughing at the pitiful inadequacy of my scanty collection, the other three of my readers are saying “Gigabytes? Isn’t that from the Flux Capacitor? 1.21 Gigabytes?”). Granted, with compression I could fit all this on a 40GB iPod or other device with a similar capacity. But that’s another device
to carry and babysit (charge up, protect, yadda yadda).
I’ve got a Media Center Extender for our XBOX at home, so I can play all my music through our home network via our XBOX on the “big speakers.” And there are other devices that accomplish the same thing, some through 802.11a/b/g wireless. Why not extend the reach of my music OUTSIDE my home network and allow me access anywhere that I have access to the internet?
Why not be able to detect the connection speed of a device connected wirelessly to the internet, say via a cell-phone through GPRS/EDGE/EVDO, etc. and then stream the downsampled music to that device?
That’s exactly what orb does. Orb is a (presently free) service that contains a “media server” that you (very easily) install on the computer that you’ve got your music on, then you simply log in to your Orb.com account via any internet connected, web enabled device that can play .asx files (Windows Media Player, Pocket PCs, Pocket PC Phone Edition, and even Windows Mobile SmartPhones). With this service I could play any song or playlist in my collection!
Although I do not have a Pocket PC Phone Edition (I’m saving my pennies) or an unlimited data plan for my cellphone (which will run about $20/month), I’m enjoying listening to my home music while I’m at work. Very cool!
Oh, and you can also stream all your videos and recorded TV shows, too. 😉