Palm Tungsten T Q&A
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Audio - the missing app
Everyone who unpacks their shiny new Tungsten T is aware that something is missing - an audio player. We know that Real Networks are working on one, and Palm have said it will be a free download, but some of us have long boring train-journeys to get through and are getting impatient.
The guys at SmartCell Technology have tried to fill the gap with AudioPlus v.1.2. AudioPlus is a sound file player for the Palm, and is now Tungsten compatible. It comes with a converter which creates the PDBs and they can then be played either from RAM or SD cards. I can put up with not playing standard formats directly from the SD card (though I hope Real will manage this), but compression is the issue here. The sample file of music takes 638kb for 1 minute, yes, 1 minute. One minute of speech is 369kb. All of a sudden my 32mb card is looking rather puny.
By way of testing I took an audio CD of Jenny Agutter reading Rebecca. The AudioPlus converter only accepts WAV files as input, so I searched the web for a freeware Audio to WAV ripper, which I found here, and ripped the first chapter. That came out at a trifling 240mb WAV file. Then I set AudioPlus to convert it at maximum compression with the voice setting on. First attempt crashed my PC. Second attempt worked away for 15 minutes then gave an error message. FOr the third attempt I am going to close every other running app and leave it to its own devices. I'll report back later. Ciao.
It worked. So here are the figures: 23'34" of voice at maximum compression (2 bit sampling) becomes a 4.02mb Palm database. the trouble is that it sounds terrible. Not only is it as fuzzy and crackly as 1960s vinyl, but it appear gets stuck like a needle on vinyl: "Last night I dreamt I dreamt I deamt I dreamt I went to Manderley again". Oh well, listening to audio books on the train remains something PPC can do which Palm is still trying to catch up.