Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Posted by Jordan Rosenwald in "SOFTWARE" @ 09:00 AM
Now this is simply cool. Control Windows Media Player from your network connected Pocket PC, build playlists, and listen to your music collection through you stereo or PC speakers. A few things to be aware of though...
Installation - As Painless As They Can Make It
Well we start off with what some might consider a rocky beginning. You see, Zerama Remote is a rather intense application which uses some pretty new technology. As a result, the libraries that it requires simply aren't on the Pocket PCs as they come from the manufacturers. So we begin the installations with Microsoft's .NET Compact Framework. Then we'll need Microsoft .NET Framework for your PC. Also, you'll have to make sure that you're running Windows Media Player 9 (WMP9). Finally, you need to install Zerama Remote itself. Sure that's a lot to install, but let's move on because there's a lot more to see and explore.
How Does It Work?
Now that we have it installed, let's quickly cover how the program works. The concept is that Zerama has two pieces, the server and the client. The server piece resides on your PC and, when launched, essentially acts as a "wrapper" around WMP9.
Figure 1: Zerama Remote Server - "Wrapper" for WMP9.
The client piece, of course, sits on your Pocket PC and is where you take control of your music. Once your server is running, you can launch Zerama Remote and connect to your PC.
Figure 2: Connect with the client
Like I said before, the server piece is like a "wrapper" around WMP9. From here you can configure the port you want to connect over and initiate sychronization of the library. The interface is simple and effective, but again, no advanced sorting of music, such as creating a playlist by genre.
Figure 3: The Server - Simple but missing a few bells and whistles.
The first screen when you launch the remote is for signing in. Once logged in you need to create your library. This takes a surprisingly short amount of time (given that my collection is approaching 11,000 MP3s). Once loaded, everything is organized into "Music," "Video," and "Radio." Music is alphabetized by artist, then by album, then by track. A dropdown list in the upper right lets you pick or manage your playlists. Selecting which playlist you want to edit/manage, then selecting a song and clicking "Add To Playlist," a screen-sized horizontal button, adds the song to the playlist.
Once a playlist is set up, you're ready to listen to your music. From the main screen, you can perform all the normal functions you'd expect for a music player (play, stop, next song, previous song, mute and volume control). All functions respond quickly and without issue. Without a doubt, however, my favorite function is the fullscreen mode. Since I'm controlling the music from my Pocket PC, I have no need to see the song list displayed on my screen. I'd much rather see funky colors and shapes undulating in time to my music.
Figure 4: Control and view your playlist
- Significant installation requirements;
- No ability to create playlist by genre;
- No ability to search for song, you have to know the artist and album;
- No access to ID information from main screen, only displays track title;
- No button mapping to control common functions.
Zerama Remote can be downloaded from Handango or purchased for $20.00. [Affiliate]
- Zerama Remote requires 357.7KB, and can be installed on a memory card.
- Microsoft .NET Compact Framework requires 2.4MB. It is not recommended you install it on a memory card.
I honestly have a lot of mixed feelings about this program. It gives me the control I want, but it does so at a fairly high space cost. In addition, while it gives me almost all the control I want (need to add playlist generation by genre), it doesn't give me all the information I want. I am pretty exacting about the basic ID tags for my MP3s. I'm exacting about it so I have the information when I'm playing songs. I like to know the bit rate, album, track, etc. Zerama Remote simply doesn't provide that, at least not yet.
Overall, I have to say I am pleased with this product, and would recommend it, but the space requirements are something to be aware of. I'm also hopeful that we'll see some improvements in the information you can access in the next version.