Kevin and I love recording the CrackBerry.com podcast, and we know that all of you Addicts in the CrackBerry.com community enjoy listening to it. It is certainly possible to install a Podcast Aggregator on your computer and use the BlackBerry/Roxio combination to move those downloaded podcasts to your BlackBerry when you cradle it, but it is not as organized as it could be.
Roxio sees the podcast episodes as just audio files. It is still possible to listen to the episodes, but they remain un-organized, similar to very early MP3 players where audio files were organized into sub-directories on the player. With an iPhone for example, the podcasts reside in an organized way, even with their own category.
PodTrapper actually takes mobile podcast listening to the next step. It is a fully self contained podcast aggregator and player which allows you to subscribe to podcasts right on the BlackBerry, and download new episodes without needing to connect the BlackBerry to a computer.
Installation and setup
Installing PodTrapper is easy enough although I would have preferred the installer to automate the entire process, including extracting the BlackBerry client, making Desktop Manager aware of it, and then starting Desktop Manager to complete the process. Someone who is not familiar with what a .COD and .ALX file is, would be a little lost. For those of us who are already familiar with how to manually add BlackBerry applications via the Desktop Manager, it is pretty simple.
PodTrapper also comes with a Desktop Downloader. This Windows application will download podcasts on behalf of the BlackBerry if this option is chosen. I could only see this being used for BlackBerry users who have really high data rates. My favorite feature of PodTrapper is that it is can download podcasts over the air so I wouldn't use the Desktop Downloader.
The second installation option is to install PodTrapper directly from the developer's web site by pointing your BlackBerry's browser to http://ota.versatilemonkey.com
Once PodTrapper is installed, you need to subscribe to podcasts. This is one of the areas I think needs improvement. The reason I say this is that when you choose to add podcasts, you are simply presented with a blank screen where you are expected to type in the subscription links of the podcast(s) that you want to subscribe to. For someone used to iTunes or some other podcast aggregator that normally presents them with a large catalog of choices all organized by category, this blank screen will throw them off.
To those already familiar with what type of URLs to look for, will seek them out on the web sites for each podcast, and enter them here, each on a separate line. For example, to subscribe to CrackBerry.com's podcast, you would enter "http://feeds.feedburner.com/CrackberrycomPodcast" (without the quotes). One improvement I can envision for this screen is for it to follow the URL entry rules. For example, when entering an URL in the browser, a space becomes a period. When entering a URL in the PodTrapper screen, a space is just a space. Of course the other change I would like to see, is PodTrapper connecting to an online podcast database to make it easy to add podcasts without having to hunt down the subscription link.
Once you have added, or subscribed to the podcasts, PodTrapper begins to download them. By default it is setup to download the latest two episodes for each podcast. PodTrapper never does too many things at the same time which makes it a very friendly BlackBerry application. PodTrapper never hogs the CPU, but quietly hums along in the background downloading your shows.
The PodTrapper main screen displays your list of podcasts. Under each podcast title there is an indication of how many episodes not downloaded, how many new episodes, and how many you have started to listen to (or watch) but not completed. When you click on a podcast, you are presented with the episodes. An indicator bar shows download progress (if an episode is still downloading), or if the episode is fully downloaded and you have started listening or watching, shows the completion progress.
Figure 2: PodTrapper Podcast Screen
If you then click on an episode, you will see the typical play/stop/fast forward/rewind buttons, along with the episode details. At this time no album art is displayed. Podcasters typically use the album art for the podcast logo.
Figure 3: PodTrapper Player Screen
If you are listening to (or watching) a podcast and you receive a call, the podcast is paused. After the call, the podcast does not resume automatically, however if you open PodTrapper, it will have remembered where you were in the episode, and clicking play will resume right from where you left off.
PodTrapper's settings mostly revolve around when podcasts should be downloaded. You can enable or disable downloads over Wi-Fi, or if you are worried about data charges or you do not have an unlimited data plan, or if you are roaming, you can enable or disable downloading while on cellular data. If you prefer to have the podcasts download when your BlackBerry is connected to a Windows PC, then you can enable this option.
Figure 4: PodTrapper Settings Screen
You can even setup PodTrapper to only download new podcasts while your BlackBerry is charging. This is a good option to enable if you don't want your battery to be eaten up during the day downloading megabytes of data, when you'd rather keep the charge for making calls, doing email, and browsing the web.
There are certainly many more good things than bad (or unfinished). I think that PodTrapper is a great pod catcher (or aggregator) for the BlackBerry. It is very easy to use and works as described. Some people have indicated that using PodTrapper on the BlackBerry Storm is a bit clunky, but this is more than likely due to the interface changes of the Storm. I am sure that the developer will fix those shortly.
Most of my concerns are related to setup of PodTrapper, but using it is easy. It provides an all-in-one pod catcher/aggregator solution for the BlackBerry and allows you to be self-sufficient and not rely on a PC to download podcasts. I found the developer of PodTrapper, Marcus, very responsive (even when he is on vacation). A responsive developer is always a great thing because it means that your reported bugs and enhancement requests will be taken care of quickly.
PodTrapper sells for US$9.99 and you can download the free trial and buy it from ShopCrackBerry.com.