topic of digital music, music swapping and downloading songs from the Internet
has been a very controversial topic lately. I will not debate this topic
in this article but I will discuss how you can use many of the PDA’s (Palm
OS devices and Pocket PC’s) to play your favorite music once it is in a
digital format for computers. This article will discuss the playing of
digital music on your PDA much like you would on your desktop. The process
of converting music to be played on a handheld will be left for another
article. There are many good articles on the Internet to explain digital
music and the legal issues that surround this topic. With the popularity
of digital music players and music being played on desktop computers there
are now services that allow you to buy music in a digital format to play
on your computer and PDA. Use your favorite search engine to find some
Popular digital music formats
We will limit the digital file formats that are discussed in this article
to the two most popular, MP3 and WMA. These are the formats that are supported
by the small digital music player on the market. The first of these players
was the Rio, which came out in the late 90’s. Since then, there are many
manufactures of these devices as well as car stereos and DVD players that
can play these file formats. For a more detailed explanation of these two
formats go to Microsoft.
To get music into one of these formats from a standard music CD you
must have a CD drive in your computer (does not have to be a CD-R). With
the many software programs out on the market, some are even free,
you can take the music from the audio CD and pull it (Rip is the
term used) into your computer and can be saved in ether the MP3 or WMA
MP3- this is by far the most popular music format that is available.
Many devices are referred to as MP3 players, in reference to that music
format. Many consider this the standard format for music on the Internet
and on PC’s. The important thing to remember is if you want to play MP3
files your device must support this format.
WMA- this is the format that Microsoft is pushing. They make
claims that they can store more music in a small file then MP3’s can and
the quality of the music is just as good. This file format claims the same
sound quality as an MP3 file at half the size. The smaller the size the
more music you can transfer to a portable device. WMA is popular but not
nearly as popular as the MP3 format.
There are a lot of details involved in digital music. For more
details see an online
book chapter 3. it gives you a great amount of details about digital
To review, it is easy to get confused with the terms being thrown around
when it comes to small handheld computers, so let’s talk definitions. Handheld
refers to a device that you hold in the palm of your hand — since it has
no keyboard, a stylus is required for writing onto the screen. Devices
that fall into this category include, among others, the Palm Pilot, Handspring
as well as the Sony products that run the Palm OS. We also include in the
PDA group those devices known as “Pocket PCs” from Compaq/HP, Casio, and
others that run the Pocket PC 3.0 Pocket PC 2002 operating system.
The Palm OS and music
Palm Pilot Handhelds
The Palm operating system was not designed with music in mind when
it was created. Depending on the model you own there are third party solutions
and some hardware manufactures that will allow you to play digital music
files on some Palm OS devices. The Palm Pilot line of handhelds has the
Portéson Pro as a solution for it owners. The Portéson
Pro is an add-on MP3 player for the m100/105 and V series of Palm handheld
devices. This solution should be coming soon for the rest of the Palm handheld
line. This device uses it own file format, but all you have to do is drag
your MP3 files over and the software will convert the music to the format
for the Portéson. This device is more than just an MP3 player, it
is also a file storage device to move data files from one computer to another.
Here are some of the features of the device:
These devices start at $149. To find more information about this add-on,
go to Audio Storage
Plays standalone or attached to the handheld units
Usable as a 'Zip' disk for PC and Palm
Powerful 100 MIPS TI DSP
High Speed USB interface to PC. (12Mbps)
SD/MMC card slot with standard DOS file system
Complete Multimedia adaptor
High quality analog stereo audio output
Long battery life through low power consumption
One of the main selling points of the Handspring units running the
Palm OS was that it had a proprietary expansion slot. This opened up a
3rd party market for add-on devices; these devices were called
Springboard Modules. One of these devices allows you to play MP3
files, the MiniJam MP3 Player.
The MiniJam MP3 Player module is manufactured by InnoGear's and includes
This module retails for $89 but the company has other units with more memory.
If you would like more information go to InnoGear
64 MB Multi Media Card
Earphones with protective wind-up case
Hip pocket with belt clip
Software CD (including MusicMatch, SKINS!, eBooks reader, Album to Go)
Sony Clie handhelds
Sony has a few solutions for those that want music on their handheld.
The first is an add-on for the existing PEG-T Series of handheld from Sony.
This adds the ability to play MP3 music files on PEG-T units as well as
those MP3 music files stored on the Memory Stick media Sony uses on its
handhelds and computers. This add-on includes stereo headphones and
bundled software: RealJukebox 2 Basic for Sony, Audio Player for Adapter
v. 1.0.1 and Adobe Acrobat™ Reader.
The second solution is the Clie units that have the ability to play
MP3 files as part of the unit itself, no add-ons need to be purchased.
These models include:
To learn more you can go to the Sony
NR70V Color CLIÉ™ w/ MP3 Audio Playback and Digital Camera
PEG-T665C Color CLIÉ Handheld with MP3 Player
The Palm OS was not designed for the ability to play music but innovative
solutions have been brought to market by 3rd party companies to solve this
for music fans. If you feel the need to turn your Palm OS device into a
music player then look at these different solutions. If you are trying
to decide what Palm OS device to buy and music is a consideration, look
at the Sony handhelds.
The Pocket PC and music
When you look at the Pocket PC handheld for music you are looking at
a device that had the intention of being a multimedia handheld computer.
All Pocket PC’s have the ability to play MP3’s and WMA music files. This
is done by the application Windows Media play for the Pocket PC. This player
is based on the same player most people have on their Windows desktop computer.
The desktop version comes free on Windows
based machines and is included in the Pocket PC handhelds. All you have
to do is copy the music files to the unit or a memory expansion card and
the Pocket PC Media Play will find the music and you can start playing
immediately. You can create your own play lists and listen to the music
as you work on your handheld.
If you are looking for a handheld computer that is stronger in the music
area, then the Pocket PC units are something you should consider. Here
is how Microsoft defines Windows Media Player,
|Windows Media Player lets you playback WMA files
and MP3 files. The accompanying desktop software even lets you convert
MP3 files to the much smaller — but equally high-quality — Windows Media
Audio format. It also plays in the background so that you can listen to
music while using other features on your Pocket PC.
To find out more information about Windows Media player go to Microsoft
link is a step by step tutorial on how to get music from your PC to
your Pocket PC.
Both operating systems, the Pocket PC and Palm, have solutions for
playing music. The Pocket PC has the stronger solution but Palm has a new
operating system that they promise will be coming out in the near future.
The support for music is sure to be in this new version. This will offer
a better music solution for Palm owners and I am sure Microsoft is not
going to stop with their current music player offering.