The Mobile Podcasting Test, Report #3 – VoiceIndigo

O.k., now we get to the stories of what didn't go well at all

First, disclaimer:  This was my very unscientific test.  Who knows, maybe my Treo 700p is a dud.  I was dealing only with the 700p out of the box (with Audible Air and Audible installed).
But, sadly, somehow I doubt it.

VoiceIndigo is the site the Palm brower homepage offers under the term “Podcasting.”  If you read the press releases they have this big strategic partnership.
The site offers a small directory of Podcasts, but let's you sign up for your own account, which is what I did.  I put the usual suspects in there: This Week in Tech, Podcast 411, Podcasting Underground, etc.

Issue #1: Streaming – They have a streaming option for Podcasts.  Seems like an interesting approach.  You get that tinny thin sound that comes with low-bandwidth streaming (no matter what tech you use) but you don't have to download any files ahead of time (and it works from your browser).  Problem was this – about 5 minutes into any stream (and I tried a number of them), the Palm would die on me with some sort of “Malformed” error in the media player.  My only option – to start the stream over again.

Streaming Suggestion:  If it don't really work (and if I don't work on a $500 smartphone with a EVDO connection, I can't imagine where it really would work), don't advertise it on the site.  It is only going to really frustrate users – as it did me.  Kill it until it is ready for prime time.

Issue #2: Downloading (and Chunking) – VoiceIndigo gives the user the option to download the file instead of streaming.  Makes sense – and I do have a 1 Gig card to put stuff on.  No option to download the original file (I do have me a 1-gig card and the EVDO) is problem number one.  They had “chapters” of each file (which, best I can tell, is an arbitrary chunking).  Since I had listened to the first 5 minutes of chapter 1 many times, I selected chapter 2 for download.  Listened to all of chapter 2, but then it ended and I realized I had to download chapters 3, 4 and 5 to listen to the rest.  At that point I gave up.

Downloading Suggestion:  A) Let me download the uncompressed file.  B) If I download a chunk, next screen ask me if I want to download the rest of the chunks in the series as well.

Issue #3: Personalized Pages – So, I went in (before the road trip) and signed up for some other shows.  I put them all under the default “My First Channel.”  When I logged in, there were only a few shows on the first screen – most of them I had already listened to.  No problem – I've already registered – I got shows in “My First Channel.”  When I click “My First Channel”, I get a blank screen.  Tried it multiple times at multiple different times (even once this morning).  That feature don't work.

Personalized Pages Option:  They need to work before you let me click on them.

Issue #4: Podcatching App – They have an app called “VoiceIndigo Mobile.”  Description sounds great – screenshot looks good.  Nothing for me Treo.

Podcatching App Suggestion: Something for me Treo.

In short, VoiceIndigo – great idea – not ready for prime time yet – at least prime time on me Treo.

VoiceIndigo competitors – got something that works on me Treo?  I like the concept and got the phone (and a 1 gig card).  What can you do for me?

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