Think fast. What's a podcast? Wikipedia tells us it's "a digital audio or video file that is episodic; downloadable; programme-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme; and convenient, usually via an automated feed." For most of us, it's a video or an MP3 where our respected hosts ramble on about Important Topics, sometimes for hours on end. It's something to listen to on the way to work, while washing the dishes or killing time between classes. Podcasts are entertainment; bliss for our otherwise unoccupied ears.
But that bliss comes to a screeching halt when you consider just how user-unfriendly it is to get podcasts on to your BlackBerry. Oh sure, you could find your podcasts on the internet, download them to your computer, plug your BlackBerry into the USB port, and then transfer them. You could use a pod catcher like Juice, but you're still stuck transferring the files. Heck, there's even a service that lets you call in and listen to your podcasts over the phone. Or you could simply get PodTrapper and sleep easy, knowing all of your latest ‘casts will be on your BlackBerry when you wake up.
Simply speaking, PodTrapper works. It plays all of your podcasts, both video and audio; allowing you to pause, restart, and even bookmark podcasts (and any other audio or video file you might have). It manages your podcast feeds, keeping all of your podcasts organized and up to date. Most importantly, PodTrapper automatically downloads your podcasts when you want, how you want, and where you want.
PodTrapper is available as a download or a direct OTA install, both available at the CrackBerry store or through VersitileMonkey.com. The desktop download option requires the user to manually add the application via Desktop Manager, and thus could be a bit complicated to the average user. This may be the preferred option for those without WiFi access or with strict data plans as it comes with a Desktop Downloader to automatically transfer podcasts via USB. The OTA option installs in moments and is much simpler than downloading the .zip file, unpacking the files, and installing the .alx/.cod files.
PodTrapper makes adding new RSS podcast feeds simple; this handy program has come a long way since version 1.0 in making that easy. If you know the address of your feed, you can simply enter the URL - for example, http://feeds.feedburner.com/CrackberrycomPodcast. Personally, I email the links to myself and then copy & paste. The Browse/Search feature allows you to subscribe via links in an enormous catalog of podcasts (6,004 available in the TV & Film category alone). Finally, if anonymous stats are enabled (which they are by default), PodTrapper can actually suggest podcasts you'd like based on what you already subscribe to.
You want PodTrapper to run when your device starts? Okay. You want it to download the last four episodes from the CrackBerry feed but only the latest one from all your other feeds? Okay. You want PodTrapper to only download while it's charging AND connected to your WiFi network but NOT if you're listening to a podcast on sleep mode...? Well, you get the idea. PodTrapper gives you complete control over what content is downloaded, how it's downloaded, and where it's stored. Once you've selected all the options you want, it's a set-it-and-forget-it deal. PodTrapper will even apply customizable, standardized settings to each new podcast feed you add. Don't let the sheer number of options overwhelm you; PodTrapper works great right out of the box.
PodTrapper's support is simply top-notch. VersitileMonkey provides an extensive wiki, covering every option and feature the program has to offer. There's also a forumwhere users can ask questions, get help, report a bug, and even submit feature ideas - #1 in the voting is for fully customizable keyboard shortcuts. Behind it all is a developer committed to providing a quality application. "Marwatk," as he's known on his support forums, is in constant contact with his users. Take a look; I'll wait. You'll see that he responds to any question you might have for him. He's even known to pop up in the CrackBerry user comments.
There's not much to improve on here; believe me I've searched. However, I have experienced some playback issues under specific conditions. When using my BT headphones to pause playback, PodTrapper simply mutes the headphones. AVRCP is properly handled in the native BB Media Player, but for some reason is unhandled here. Oddly enough, the mute key on the BB handles pausing just fine. Playback while downloading is still a bit iffy. While I was testing that feature for this article, PodTrapper crashed so hard, I had to do a battery pull. Pretty sure that was caused by low system memory, as I was being particularly brutal to my 8900 at the time. Although there is an automated back up (of sorts) for PodTrapper, restoring those settings is not simple. It would be nice if the backup/restore abilities were easier to use.
PodTrapper is great product; I've known that since I bought it nine months ago. Actually, I've known that since about 4 days into my 30 (yeah, thirty) day trial. There are other pod catching apps out there, but none of them can hold a candle to the experience, features, support, and sheer "yeah, it works" of PodTrapper. At $9.99, it is one of the pricier apps out there, but this is no flashlight or daily horoscope app. It's a fully-functional, fully-featured, versatile piece of programming. And worth every penny.
PodTrapper is available at the ShopCrackBerry store and is supported on all devices.
** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **