How many devices do you lug around with you? For some, it might be one too many. Plenty of people carry around two cellphones/PDAs. Then there’s the digital camera and the iPod. Soon enough, we might be adding a device like the Amazon Kindle to the list.
Thanks to convergence, though, many features of these devices can be found in one place: Our cellphones.
With a BlackBerry, you’ve got a phone, the Internet, email, PDA functions, and music player built right in. If you have a Pearl or a Curve — or, soon enough, a BlackBerry 9000 — you’ve got a camera. And an e-book reader is just a download away.
Today we’re going to talk about using your Blackberry as an MP3 player.
I’ve mentioned the inherent problem in the adoption of mobile music before. It’s tough to get the specialization of a specific device from a converged one. That is, the iPod will always be more functional than the MP3 player on your BlackBerry because of the very nature of the devices. But some people don’t need that higher level of functionality. They just want music.
Unfortunately, your BlackBerry isn’t ready to play music out of the box. My 8830 has under 50 MB “file total” onboard memory. I have 10 applications installed, plus a custom theme, and my free memory is down to just under four megs. That will fit, if I’m lucky, one song. So no go. The only way for me to get music on my BlackBerry is to nab an external memory card.
These come in sizes from 1 GB to 8 GB, but you’ll have to check which cards are compatible with your BlackBerry. From there, you’ll have to install your card into your device. This will be done by taking off the battery shield. In some cases, as with the Curve, you’ll have to actually pop out the battery. With the 8830, the card is inserted above the battery, as you can see illustrated below.
Next, you’ll need a media player. Thankfully, your BlackBerry comes with one preinstalled. It’s pretty basic, and allows you to browse by artist, album, or genre. You can switch between your handset speaker and speakerphone, which is nice if you’re in a crowded place and don’t have a pair of ear buds. Unfortunately, there is no fast forward or rewind options.
If you’re serious about using your BlackBerry as an MP3 player, though, you’re best off downloading a multimedia player. There are a number out there that provide fuller features than the default player. Some of them, like BerryTunes, also allow you to listen to Internet radio stations. FlipSide is another quality player, and one we’ve reviewed in the past.
Finally, of course, you’ll need yourself a decent collection of music tracks. Here’s the problem: A lot of music you purchase on the Internet, including the bulk of the tracks at the iTunes store, are DRM-protected. This means that you can only copy the song on a certain number of computers, and pretty much prevents you from transferring the files to a non-iPod device. Don’t fret. This just means an extra step is involved.
The most common way to remove the DRM from your iTunes music is to burn the files to an audio CD. From there, you rip the music from the CD back to your computer, and voila! You can now transfer the songs to your BlackBerry. An alternative to this is to purchase software like NoteBurner, which simulates the burning of a CD.
This is particularly helpful if you don’t have a CD burner on your computer. Other outlets for digital music are Rhapsody, MP3.com, Amazon, and Napster, among many others. You can also check out Puretracks, which launched a digital music service for BlackBerry.
Oh yeah, there’s that whole issue of transferring your music from your computer to your BlackBerry. This can be done in a number of ways.
First is through the BlackBerry Desktop Software. If you have the latest version, it will have Roxio, which will allow you to move your music from your computer to your device. Thankfully, it’s a rather painless process. If you’re a Windows user and have your microSD properly installed in your BlackBerry, it should be recognized as as mass storage device once it’s connected via a USB. You can then transfer music via Windows Explorer with ease. Once again, make sure the files you’re copying aren’t DRM-protected.
Alternately, you can copy the files right to your microSD card if you have the proper hardware. Finally, you can just email yourself the music files (or have someone email them to you). The only problem there — and this is an enormous issue for Canadian users — is that OTA downloads can end up costing you money. Most U.S. carriers do not charge for overages.
But some, like Verizon, can penalize you in other ways if you go over a certain limit (it’s 5 GB with them). Plus, OTA downloads, even on EVDO, can be painfully slow.
Do you use your BB as an MP3 player?
Personally, I don’t mind carrying around my iPod, even though I’ve already got a bulky device in my BlackBerry (hey, I’ve got the OtterBox case). Do any of you use your BlackBerry to listen to tracks? If so, let us know how it is in the comments.