Busker Review

Review: Busker

January 29, 2006
Ratings: 4 of 5
By: Christopher Meinck

Using a secure digital memory expansion card, it’s easy to convert your Treo into a full fledged MP3 player.
Several third party software developers have taken note and released MP3 player applications. Busker, from
Electric Pocket, offers MP3 playback in a slick interface that includes album art and web functionality.

User Interface

Upon launching Busker, it indexed music files found on my SD card and I was greeted by the main interface. Busker supports MP3, Ogg and Wav files. My music is encoded in MP3 and Apple’s protected AAC format. Since only the iPod can play m4p, I copied a few MP3’s from iTunes to an SD card for my Busker test drive. From the main interface, I had a choice of:

  • QuickMix
  • Playlists
  • All Tracks
  • Alphabetical List of Artists Presently on my SD Card

Busker Browse Mode

There are two main screens when using Busker. The first is the main interface described above. When I selected
QuickMix, the Treo immediately had Apple Shuffle-like capabilities. It immediately launched the Player Window
and started a mix of my songs. The player window gets split into three:

  • Songs due up next
  • Song, Artist and Album Cover Art
  • Player controls

Busker MP 3 Player

Although I selected “Shuffle” or what Busker terms “Quick Mix”, I enjoyed that Busker had a list of
upcoming songs. The QuickMix is a great way to listen to a large library of music randomly selected. In my testing,
I had a small group of songs on my SD card, but Busker did random selection was random.

Player Interface

Regardless of whether you are in “Browse” mode or “Player” mode,
the player controls for Busker always appear at the bottom of the screen. Switching between Browse and Player
mode was accomplished by selecting the musical note icon or people icon at the bottom right of the screen. When
in Busker’s Player mode, you cannot help but enjoy the graphics. You can switch between having upcoming songs, album
art and player to a mode that displays the album art with just the controls. This type of playback reminded me
of my iPod Video. My MP3’s were encoded using iTunes where I added the album art. On the Treo, Busker did recognize
the existing art. Electric Pocket has a section on their site that provides tips for adding album art through iTunes. You also have the option to place a JPG of the specific album art in the folder containing your music. Luckily, I had already added art in iTunes, because this method is too time consuming and I find it’s more beneficial to manage your "main" music library on your desktop Mac/PC then on the Treo.

Going Online With Busker

Busker offers a few interesting online options. While in a song that doesn’t have artwork, you can ask
Busker to “Find Art”. This prompts Busker to go online and find the artwork for a particular song. While Busker was quick in returning the artwork, it retrieved album art from Yellowcard’s newer Lights and Sounds albu rather than cover art from One for the Kids. Looking at the encoding of the MP3 file, it was corrrectly encoded as One for the Kids.

Busker Album Art on Treo

Busker stores album art in a folder separate from my audio files. I removed the Yellowcard art and tried again. This time, I corrected the title before Busker went searching. Within 10 seconds (while listening to music), Busker went out and retrieved the correct artwork. Cool. I even went so far as to mount my SD card, retrieve the artwork neatly placed in the Busker folder, and added the cover art in iTunes.

Busker Correctly Finds Art

Learning More About Your Music

Busker has a feature called Web Extras. If you are listening to a particular artist, selecting Web Extras will prompt
Busker to retrieve a quick biography of the band/artist that is currently playing on your Treo. I was listening to The Used and
Busker retrieved a few factoids about The Used. While I knew they hailed from Utah, it was cool to know they come from Orem, Utah
and their debut album sold nearly 200,000 copies. This feature adds a whole near interactive experience to your listening.
Very well done.

The Used bio

Ranking System

Busker has a star icon in the top right of the player and browse modes. As you’re listening to your music, tapping
on the star quickly adds this to your Favorites list creating a Playlist of favorites as determined by you. This a nice feature, but for some reason every song I added was tagged as a favorite. I would have much rather allowed Busker to allow me to designate my favorites.


In a crowded field of MP3 players, Busker stands out with album cover art display during playback and the ability to view web biographies of your favorite music. It also includes an alarm clock allowing you to wake up to your favorite tune. If you are in the market for an MP3 player for your Treo, I suggest giving adding Busker to the list of worthy trials.

Busker retails for $19.95 and is available as a free trial.

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