Before the month is over, one of your lucky friends will pick up an iPhone, which means listening to them brag about how they now have an iPod and cell all in one. But listening to your iTunes library isn't a capability that's restricted to the iPhone. NuTsie, a downloadable application, lets you stream your iTunes library to your regular cell phone. Rather than uploading your actual songs, nuTsie (the name is an anagram of "iTunes") will analyze your library's data and then match the song titles with songs it has on its servers, making the service totally legal (and free).
As of today's launch the service is compatible with 15 phones, with new phones being announced soon. Though it's slim pickings during the beta, we were able to test out the service on Cingular's Samsung Sync and RAZR V3xx. Although the application really excites us, the beta version has to work out some kinks before your cellular music experience feels as easy as listening to your iPod.
NuTsie's download and signup process was shockingly easy. After inputting our name and mobile number on nuTsie.com we hit the Next button and received an SMS on our 3G-enabled Samsung Sync in less than ten seconds. We then simultaneously installed the application on our phone and uploaded our exported iTunes library on nuTsie.com. If you aren't sure how to export your iTunes library, nuTsie will walk you through the steps.
In a matter of seconds we had uploaded the meta data of our library on the nuTsie Web site (the length of this step depends on your library size) and had the application downloaded to our cell. Once we located the program in our Sync's applications folder we were immediately asked if we wanted to start using the program. Nutsie reminds you that the application is subject to data charges.
Extremely easy to navigate, the main menu loads in seconds and presents your playlists on the master screen. Though you can't listen to your entire library on demand, you can scroll through your playlists and select which songs you'd like to listen to or hit Shuffle All to play songs from your entire library at random. It's important to note that many of your songs may not play in nuTsie, as the service must have your songs already stored on NuTsie's servers.
We selected our "Airplane" playlist, and the NuTsie play page immediately launched. Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" appeared with the album art on the left-hand side of the song title, artist, and album. Just below are the nuTsie music controls that closely resemble your iPod's buttons, though you can only move forward through songs. Thankfully, nuTsie included a return arrow button that lets you move back to the menu and select a new playlist. The controls were very simple to navigate via our RAZR and Sync's D-pads.
Our initial reaction to the listening experience was an out-loud "This is awesome!" Our tunes sounded great, although they will only sound as good as your cell phone's speaker (the RAZR sounded much better than the Sync). When we switched over to a wired headset it was like listening to our music through any other MP3 player or music device. There were no signs of echo or static.
Unfortunately, we couldn't get a stereo Bluetooth headset to work with our Sync or RAZR V3xx. We did get it to work with the new Nokia N76, but that phone's slower EDGE data connection made changing tracks excruciatingly slow. On our 3G-connected phones, however, we had to wait only about three seconds to hear the next song, and when tracks changed on their own it took no longer than the time between songs on iPod.
We then experienced what may be for many potential users a dealbreaking drawback. When we closed both the Sync and the RAZR, the nuTsie application immediately shut down. That's just not going to work for a mobile audience. Flipping the Nokia N76 closed didn't interrupt our music, and we were able to keep nuTsie running on our closed cell phone while listening through our stereo BlueTooth headset. When we had an incoming phone call, nuTsie paused music playback and then relaunched once we hung up.
Until the company can get its application to work the way it should on multiple phones, we highly recommend listening to nuTsie through its Web-based application. You don't get to listen to your music on demand, but you can still listen to your collection in Shuffle All mode. Although nuTsie didn't have a match for all of our tracks, we were really happy to see that it could match some of the rarer songs in our music collection. It was able to play everything from Broadway showtunes to our favorite Arcade Fire tracks.
NuTsie has some serious weaknesses in its early beta stages, especially its inability to play your iTunes with some clamshell models closed. Its easy installation and setup, however, make it worth a try for those who own one of the 15 supported handsets. If you don't choose to bring nuTsie to your mobile just yet, we don't blame you, but we definitely recommend giving the Web-based music player a try.
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