Another area where Pocket PCs have an advantage is overcome by Handspring's Springboard module with the introduction of the Audible Advisor module from CardAccess and Audible.com. If you don't know what Audible.com is, it's an audio book download service, where you can download books onto your handheld computer and listen to them wherever you go.
This new Springboard module has 16MB of space to hold your audio books. The module itself has no controls-only an audio out jack-all controls are onscreen, and volume can be controlled with the scroll buttons and the four application buttons.
Both the player and sync software are stored on the module, and load automatically upon insertion.
Downloading songs is surprisingly easy, done through a program on the PC. Then you just put the Visor into its cradle, start the AASync application on the Visor, and the programs sync, loading as much of the book as will fit on the module. Given the 16MB, that's about 4.4 hours of audio maximum.
A simple bar shows how much of the book has been heard, how much is on the Visor, and how much remains on the PC. An arrow moves along the bar as you listen, indicating when you might need to sync more data over. This system was well-designed and makes book management easy.
You can download some books in different compression levels, and the AudibleAdvisor supports 3 and 4, the more compressed formats. Audio quality at both settings is quite good. I found listening in the car (through a cassette tape adapter) almost as good as audio tape.
Playback continues as the screen times out, so you can control some of the features through the application buttons. Unfortunately, you can't just pause with the screen off. Pressing the left button takes you back a chapter, and unless you were paying attention, tough to do with the screen off, you don't know where you were. In a car, this is a big disadvantage. Otherwise, my experience with the AudibleAdvisor was great. Regularly US$129, it's available for a limited time for US$49.95 with a year's membership to Audible.com, with all their audio content at US$12.95 per month. Steep for some, but if you're a commuter, it could be worth it.
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