Streaming Audio on your Treo with Pocket Tunes 3.0
Andrew and I were recently discussing Pocket Tunes and I've been giving it a good listen over the past few days...
There are two versions of Pocket Tunes... The 'basic', which you most likely have heard about or even used as a result of your Treo purchase and the Deluxe version which offers an incredible array of features you might want to consider if you are getting serious about audio on your Treo.
The latest version of Pocket Tunes has some great features in all versions that you should definitely be aware of if you have yet to check it out. You can listen with the screen turned off or run Pocket Tunes in the background of any application. This means you can just let it run from behind Blazer, eReader, check your email or just listen from within your pocket with a pair of headphones. I've even enjoyed listening through the speaker (great for talk programs like the Gilmore Gang from IT Conversations).
Another nice feature is that PocketTunes can be called on by other applications and pop-up as it is needed. You can set this from within pTunes' Background Preferences by simply ticking 'Bring up console with button'.
Shown below, the Pocket Tunes Console has been called from within eReader...
Version 3.0 adds some additional niceties like: integration with Windows Media Player (Windows Only); Organization by ID3 tag so you can browse your collection by artist, album or genre; and plugins for Ogg Vorbis and WAV files.
The Deluxe version adds even more features...Windows Media Playback, cross-fading between tracks, bookmarking of files (excellent for podcasters and audiobooks) and even auto-bookmarking. The feature most Treonauts seek out in Pocket Tunes Deluxe is the ability to tune in streaming audio! You can connect to Shoutcast and listen as you go about your day or night. You'll want to make sure you have a generous or even unlimited data plan before venturing too far along here as you might be very unpleasantly surprised at the end of the month with your cellular bill otherwise. If there's an internet station you want to listen to, it's most likely able to be heard on your Treo, though you might need a different bookmark than that on your computer to get access at a lower rate.
In my tests, streams in the 40-60 range work best, though I am on T-Mobile GPRS in the US. (Future) EDGE and 1XRTT (Sprint) Treo 650 users and current Sprint or Verizon users in the US might get quicker data rates which would enable a faster and therefore higher quality connection. I've not found too much issue with what I've been able to listen to though as usual with streaming audio, there can be buffering issues which will cause the sound to pause while you reconnect at speed. I would recommend you start your search for audio at the excellent shoutcast directory maintained by Treobits.
To help get you started in streaming we thought it would be good to do a full walk-through of the process. For starters, you'll want to make sure Pocket Tunes Pro is installed! Then you just need to fire up Blazer and head over to Treobits.com.
In this image above, I've already loaded up the Treobits site and actually clicked on the Shoutcast menu item An easy way to do this is simply press the 7 key on your Treo - the site will load that item automatically. You can also use the 5-way if you prefer...
The full Genre listing is available if you scroll down...You can pick anything you want by simply moving the 5-way left or right and then pressing the center button.
Once you've selected a genre, you'll see the available list of stations. Treobits has done an excellent job collecting streams at lower bitrates so they work well on your Treo's data plan. You simply tap on the one you want...
You should then see an immediate option to download the stream to your Treo. Once you accept (say yes) you'll have the option of either opening the file directly at that point or saving it. Opening will automatically begin the stream in Pocket Tunes (and save it in the Streamcast directly on your SD card) while saving will add it to the ShoutCast directory on your card.
You don't have to switch over to Pocket Tunes to listen - it's quite capable of streaming in the background. When you do switch over, or if happen to start there after you've saved some favorites, you'll see something like one of the screens above. In the first, the stream has been paused. The second screen is available once you choose to Open (command+O or by pressing what looks like the Eject button). Now one of the things initially you might say is -- I don't see that Shoutcast list on my Treo. Well, be sure to tap the upper right drop-down to reveal the ShoutCast playlist option. ;)
Treonauts love to listen...