It wasn’t too long ago that Cooper was getting geeked for the FlipSide BlackBerry MP3 player. Today, I’m going to take a look at another loaded media player for BlackBerry: MiuTunes. Like FlipSide, MiuTunes stands far above the default BlackBerry media player…though that could change once we start seeing OS 4.5 released. For now, though, let’s take a look at what makes MiuTunes a cool and easy interface for listening to music on your BlackBerry.
Downloading and installation
You can download MiuTunes either over the air, or to your PC desktop. Alternatively, you can have the download link emailed to you, but it seems far easier just to head to miutunes.com from your BlackBerry browser. From there, it’s a typical third party software installation. Once you’re finished, you’ll notice a music note on you BlackBerry main screen. I bet you’ll never guess what that one does.
Once you launch the application, MiuTunes will attempt to access your media card and pick out all of the songs. If you’re a fan of the album artwork, you can add that file to the “artwork” folder, which is created on your memory card when you install MiuTunes, under the MiuTunes directory. Now, let’s get into how this baby works.
Along with checking for your media files, MiuTunes will also remind you to upgrade to the full version if you’re still on the seven-day trial. It can get a bit annoying, but hey, the software expires, so they might as well remind you about it.
From there, you’ll notice a circle of options, which you can control with the trackball. Scroll left or right, up or down, and you’ll jog through the various icons. This lets you select songs by genre, year, artist, song, playlist, or album. You can also explore the folders on your media card from the main menu.
Click in the menu button and you’ll be presented with a number of options to customize MiuTunes. Anything with an arrow next to it means there’s a further menu. Anything with a key name next to it isn’t changeable. It just notes the function, and which key performs it. For instance, the first menu listing is “Open.” Next to it is “Click.” This means that clicking in the trackball performs that function. So let’s move into the further menus.
First up is play options, which shows you the keyboard controls for manipulating your songs and playlists. Unfortunately, these controls are not customizable. Whether you like it or not, you’ll be using your spacebar as a play/pause function, while holding it to completely stop the track. Next track is enter, and previous track is delete. You can also fast forward and rewind by holding the ALT button and rolling the trackball left or right.
In the main menu, you can also customize your Artwork & Library options, as well as your Playlist options. This allows you to add songs to the active playlist on the fly, as well as view all of your lists, and play your active list.
The next menu item, Options, is where you can do your customization. Here you can register the product (using the “About” option), change the root directory, change how you sort album artwork, and set your connection (BIS, BES, etc.). You can also set the audio output method, which is defaulted at “Auto.” This can be changed to Handset, Speaker, Bluetooth, Headset, or Headset + Speaker.
The advanced options gives you a few further customization opportunities, including when to show certain aspects, like album artwork when available, and when to prompt for certain items, like escaping out of the program while a song is playing.
Running MiuTunes in the background
An advantage of MiuTunes, as with most BlackBerry media players, is the ability to run the software in the background, so that you can continue normal operations while still listening to your music. Then again, that is something also available in the default BlackBerry media player. So this brings up the question of what MiuTunes brings to the table over the default.
The ups and downs
The major positive of MiuTunes is the shortcut keys. These make navigating a bit easier, at least when you’re still in the program itself. Even as I’m browsing my library, I can hold down ALT and move the trackball forward to fast-forward the track. Which does bring me to a negative, at least comparably.
I actually like the navigation feature in the default media player better. With that one, I can click on the progress bar and move it wherever I want. With MiuTunes, it’s just a basic fast-foward. So that’s a personal preference thing. However…
Changing to speakerphone requires going through two menus in MiuTunes. With the default media player, it is an option in the first menu. Want to listen like you’re talking on the phone? Click the option. Want to listen to speakerphone? Click back. Then again, MiuTunes does offer more playback options, which gives it a slight edge. I do, though, like the ease of being able to select my playback method on the first menu.
MiuTunes, like FlipSide, offers you the option of searching the Internet for album artwork. This does incur data charges, so if you’re rolling without an unlimited data plan, or you have service up in Canada, you might want to watch out for this. MiuTunes does find artwork rather quickly; it took a matter of seconds to get the artwork for Frank Zappa’s The Grand Wazoo.
Thankfully, you can check out MiuTunes for yourself for free on a seven-day trial. That beats the three-day trial of FlipSide. However, the price is a bit more expensive at $29.95. So it’s up to you. Are MiuTunes’s features worth the higher pricetag?