Products & Reviews
Electric Pocket Ringo Pro
Tue Aug 29, 2006 - 12:15 PM EDT - By
Table of Contents
> Overview Converting MP3s Conclusion
Overview Ring-ring. For decades, a simple bell told you the phone needed answering. Now it's obsolete. The mobile phones of today blast out groovy melodies and boogie beats to tell you and everyone else in the theater that a call, like Ezra Pound's winter, is a-comin' in.
What is it with ringtones, anyway? The streets in the downtown here are alive with music, not from boom boxes anymore, but from phones.
If you stand in line at a deli frequented by college-age crowds, as I do most days around lunchtime, you'll hear a veritable jukebox of ringtones. Two-beat ditties, complicated rock and rap rhythms, even jazz. I'm the only one blasting out Bach (Thank you, Palm!).
However, thanks to Ringo Pro, I can now hold my own in this din. When a client calls, my Treo 650 recognizes the phone number and plays the Halleluiah Chorus. If it's a certain person who shall remain unnamed, it plays jazz. Sexy! Indeed, if I had relatives that I'm on speaking terms with, I could set each of them up with a ringtone, a picture, and yet another musical cue to play if they ever pipe me an SMS.
And when my Treo 650 skips the partita and emits a unique tune that I "composed," an unknown caller is dialing in (wrong number, probably). I created the funky ring with Ringo's custom ringtone Midi sequencer (The native Treo ringtones are Midi, too).
Ringo manages all this with a quirky user interface backed up by useless "help" screens. It's not difficult to figure out, just unintuitive. You also have to re-type information that should be simply tap-able, or automatically gleaned from the Contacts database, already typed. When you're done with that drudgery, there's no "OK" button. Tap the person (or group) icon to make the app accept your entry.
Before Ringo Pro installs, it's simple to change ringtone preferences, although you can't apply them to individual callers or groups. You get there by choosing Phone (push the Phone button) > Menu (button) > Options > Sound Preferences. Tap "Tones" (Treo 650) or observe "Application: Ring Tones" (Treo 700p) in the screen that appears.
By itself, the Treo only assigns tones for unknown, and known categories of callers. Add Ringo Pro, and you'll find many new wrinkles to the ringtone choosing process, but changing them isn't that simple any more. The Treo's own path is still there, but that isn't what you bought Ringo for.
Ringo has three screens. Open the app and you get the first one, where you can change default ringtones and a picture with the dropdown menus. Once a menu drops down, it only displays one page of music files. You access the rest of them with the "More" and other options in the menu. Clicking "More" brings up a bigger list. Ringo shows converted MP3 files which aren't what the Treo normally wants for a ringtone - if the target folder has any in it.
Choose "Pick Tone" to browse an SD card. The "Tone Library" option displays Treo-native ringtones, which include any you've made with the Midi sequencer (Tap "New"), and any that you've converted from MP3. "Browse Ringtone Store" invites you to bruise your plastic at Electric Pocket's Treo-friendly website. It offers pay and free ringtones and pictures.
Easy so far. None of this replaces the Treo's own ringtone chooser screen, and that may be why Ringo has a reputation for erratic behaviorjudging from customer comments on websites where it's been reviewed.
Richard Starkey's Ringtone
To assign ringtones to individual callers, tap the person icon (second from right) at the bottom of the Ringo screen. This brings up Ringo's second screen, Ringo Friends. Here you can have the Treo put up a picture and play a sound according to who is calling. Alas, you must key the friend's information. It's not collected from the Contacts databasea serious oversightand it won't work if you get it wrong.
Clicking "Match All Numbers" doesn't always work. If you don't want to struggle with this, simply go to the Contacts screen, highlight the number (only one number even if the contact has several), and paste it into the Number field on the Friends screen. I can't see popular people using this much. Too many friends, too much data entry.
One vicious, villainous and fabulously rewarding thing you can do with Ringo Pro is turn off a ringtone for a given caller (or group). Simply set the caller's ringtone to "Silent," an option in all the dropdowns.
This works sofine for that person who keeps calling at odd times and talking forever about nothing and won't hang up and always has something more to say and must absolutely must have the last word
Well, you know people like that, don't you?
The third screen is groups, which applies ringtones to callers according to their category in Contacts. Ringo doesn't allow editing the categories, but Contacts does. To appear in a Ringo group, the contact must have a category assigned, or it'll be herded into the "Unassigned" category.
Ringo does not run from an SD card, although it can access MP3's stored there. If you set a ringtone from an MP3 file that lives on a card and then remove the card, you get an error. Not good. Best to test the files from the card, then move the ones you want to use to the internal memory, if you have enough to spare. Really, the program should offer to install them there. (You kinda have to wonder who Beta tests some programs and why they miss obvious gotchas like this). Next Page: Converting MP3s >>