Orange turns mobs into iPod rivals

From next month, the average mobile might finally rival bona fide MP3 players from Apple, Creative and Sony.The cause for our excitement and revolutio

From next month, the average mobile might finally rival bona fide MP3 players from Apple, Creative and Sony.

The cause for our excitement and revolutionary fervour is the November 1st launch of Orange's Music Player Manager, a bit of Windows software that compresses your computer's existing music collection to fit more songs onto a phone.

It works by converting your current MP3s and WMAs - not, sadly, all those iTunes-ripped AACs - to 32kbps versions of the mobile format, AAC+. The result? You can fit about four times the number of tracks in your mob. On the SPV C550 in the photo, for example, you'll be able to load up roughly 50 albums without buying extra memory.

Initially, Orange is serving up 11 phones with the service. As you'd expect, they're Series 60 Nokias, Sony Ericsson smartphones and Windows-powered SPVs - if you own one already, you'll be able to download Orange's Track Converter software for free.

We know what you're thinking. 32kbps music will sound awful, right? Well, from the demos we've heard, you can tell the difference after they've been converted, but they're perfectly listenable - think 6 Music on digital radio rather than those pristine AAC Lossless files on your hard drive.

Mobile downloads via your PC, SPV extras...

And finally... Orange is extending its £1.50-a-track mobile music download service so you can access it via your computer's web browser. The question of why boggles our addled minds, but it's nice to know the option's there. You can even use the service to backup any downloaded tracks if you lose your phone.

The SPV C550 is also getting bigged up for music duties - from November 1st it'll come bundled with a 3.5mm adapter for decent headphones (see our Top 10) and a stereo-out cable for micro hi-fis (again, there's a Top 10 here).

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