Why MP3 phones still suck

I have been looking into MP3 phones ever since I started listening to podcasts. So far, I’m not using one – which is quite funny being the kind of geek I am. I’d really love to – I’m on the road a lot, so every device I can get rid off means less weight, one less sync cable, and one less charger.

So, why am I still using my iPod, then, you might ask? Quite simple: the MP3 phone manufacturers so far have tried making teenagers happy, which seems to be good enough for them. If all you do is drop the occasional MP3 onto your phone, todays phones will work for you.

If you’re listening to podcasts and/or work with frequently changing playlists, todays solutions suck. Totally.

My daily routine involves updating my podcast subscriptions, plugging in the iPod and leaving the house. I can be sure that my iPod will not only have the most up to date podcasts, it will also have gotten rid of the ones I have allready listened to. Great, huh..?
This kind of simplicity is what has made Apple so successful.

The only mobile phones that integrate into desktop applications for MP3 management so far are Windows Mobile phones. Unfortunately they only work with Windows Media Player, which does not include a podcatcher. So, things work, but in an extremely crude way.

iTunes can only be used manually or through third party tools. One of the better sync tools is probably iTunes Agent, which lets you use smart playlists. A cascade of smart playlists lets you do the sync.

What all of these solutions lack is a feedback to the PC application, i.e. management of which podcasts have been listened to already. Not only is this not visible on the phone, it also does not get back to the PC, so you can’t delete the episodes you’ve already listened to.

In a nutshell: for podcast listeners, there currently is no alternative to the iPod in terms of synchronisation functionality. A huge gap that cries to be filled, if you ask me. Given that the so-called “smart” phones can run applications, this should not be too hard.

What’s your take – are you satisfied with listening to podcasts on something other than an iPod?

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