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Mercora M: new source of tunes for WM5 Treos

Wed Jan 3, 2007 - 10:58 AM EST - By Tim Hillebrand

Observations

This innovative service should keep anyone’s head buzzing with favorite tunes, and it’s a wonderful way to discover new ones. However, because the music is a live stream over the Internet, I have experienced buffering gaps, especially when using a slow phone network connection. It’s great that this universal tuner works as well as it does using a phone connection, but you probably would want to have an unlimited plan, or it could cost a fortune. I tried it in my car while driving, and the reception was so intermittent that it was virtually worthless. Friends tell me that it works much better with a higher broadband connection such as EVDO. I found that it worked more satisfactorily with almost no buffering issues when connected through Wi-Fi—but it is still a problem.

At first, navigation on the mobile version was also a problem. It appears that you cannot back up in menus or hop from one area to another without exiting the program and starting over. However, I accidentally discovered that you can move about by using the 5-way navigation button. Unfortunately, there is no help file yet that would remedy such seeming dilemmas. There should be one forthcoming by the first of the year.

The search function in the mobile version needs to be on the main menu, not embedded inside another non-related item. Frankly, I rarely scored a hit with the song or artist I wanted in the search mode. On the other hand, I had great success with hits on the desktop version. I wonder why there would be a difference.

It seems to me the best way to use the mobile version is for accessing your favorite tunes residing on your own computer or on friends’ computers. That way it is like enjoying MP3 music on demand using your Pocket PC.


In the Music Station selection mode, I had better luck, but I had to cruise through the entire list of music stations to find the genre I wanted. Then, only one song plays at a time over any given station. When that song has ended, the next song does not play automatically. You have to press Stop and tap play each time you want to listen to a new song. Instead, I would expect continuous streaming within any given genre. This too needs fixing. These problems do not exist on the desktop version, however. I hope the glitches will disappear at the end of the Beta testing stage.

Despite these minor "still-in-beta" issues, I suggest that you try it. It’s a pioneering approach that deserves your consideration with much to like and appreciate. I think you will enjoy its diverse features.






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Criteria 

Rating

Features 4
Usability 3
Setup 3
Cost/Benefit 5
Overall
(not an average)
Pros
  • Mercora gives access to a huge corpus of music
  • Mercora allows users to become DJs
  • Mercora is perhaps the least expensive music service
  • Mercora works on desktops, laptops, Pocket PCs and Smartphones
  • Cons
  • Buffering gaps are annoying
  • Unclear menus
  • Portable version not as functional as desktop version yet
  • No help file at this timebut coming soon
  • Cannot download music


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