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Palm Pre Media Sync Showdown

Ever since Palm and Apple started their dance about the Pre's ability to sync with iTunes, I've been keeping an eye out for alternative ways to move media to my Pre.

Over the last few weeks I've been putting three applications through their paces with my Pre to find a suitable workaround for this glaring omission on Palm's part: MarkSpace's GoGadget for webOS, Salling Software's Media Sync and doubleTwist. All three applications are available for Windows and Mac OS X, however in this review were tested on Mac OS X.

Photo by whatleydude


GoGadget for webOS

MarkSpace, developers of GoGadget, are well known for their syncing application The Missing Sync, which has long allowed users to sync data such as contacts, bookmarks and music with their devices. Whilst there is a version of Missing Sync available for webOS (costing $39.95) I took a look at GoGadget which is a slimmed-down version of Missing Sync designed with your media in mind, costing $19.95.

GoGadget is well-designed, and offers the handy feature to create a ringtone for your device (whether it's from a non-DRMed iTunes song or other audio file) as well as the ability to sync documents and other files to your Pre. It also has the nice touch of being able to eject your Pre from the computer after syncing, so you don't have to eject it using your computer's OS.

Whilst it's the most comprehensive of the applications I've tested to get media onto the Pre, it's also lacking one key feature for me: it doesn't support Aperture as a source of photos, so I can't transfer photos to my Pre. In the scheme of things, however, it's a small inconvenience: I'd hazard a guess most people on OS X are using iPhoto - and on Windows you can sync folders of photos just fine.

Salling Media Sync

I've been a fan of Salling Software's Clicker application since I bought my first Mac just under 5 years ago, and their Media Sync application provides many of the same features as GoGadget. That said, Media Sync has a few unique features that may appeal to users. Unlike GoGadget, which is specifically tailored for webOS devices, Media Sync works with a broad variety of devices including webOS (handy if you need to sync more than one device to iTunes). Media Sync also allows you to transfer photos onto your device from Aperture.

If you're on Windows, Media Sync may well have the upper-edge over GoGadget. As well as supporting folders as the application supports photos from Adobe Photoshop Elements (v6-7) and Adobe Photoshop Album SE 3.2.

doubleTwist

doubleTwist (free) is a slightly different application from the previous two, in that it's designed more to replace iTunes than it is complement it - however as doubleTwist remains in beta, it's not feature-complete either.

Besides being the only free application in this test (though the UI implies that a paid-for doubleTwist account is forthcoming), doubleTwist is also a promising replacement for iTunes. Whilst I'm mostly happy with iTunes, I know a few Windows users who aren't - and the the inclusion of the Amazon MP3 store and familiar UI certainly helps make it far more easier to use than the bloated and unreliable open-source Songbird player.


The only problem right now is that, for a Pre user, the only sync option right now is to select playlists or drag and drop songs onto the device to be transferred. Photos and other media are, for now, a notable omission. doubleTwist's current feature set prevents it from being a genuine competitor right now in this test, however it's definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future - particularly as the application starts to add more media syncing options.

Summary

Given the small and subtle differences between the two main contenders in this showdown (GoGadget and Salling Media Sync), it's hard to pick a winner. Salling Media Sync has the upper hand in the number of third-party applications it supports - however if I had to choose one it would be GoGadget. With the built-in ringtone creation and document syncing, I'm willing to overlook the app's lack of Aperture syncing.

Note: Salling Software and Mark|Space provided Not for Resale licenses for their respective products to be tested in this review. For further details on our review policies, please visit this page.

Tags: commercial, DoubleTwist, freeware, gogadget, iTunes, Media Sync, MediaSync, Palm Pre, PalmPre, review, reviews, shareware, weOS