MobileInfocenter

KoolSounds Review

By: Kris Keilhack
February 21, 2007

KoolSounds Review - Palm SoftwareThroughout its decade-long history, there has never been an emphasis placed on system sounds in the Palm OS. In fact, it took Palm Inc. over six years (1996-2002) to release a device with amplified, 16-bit stereo output (the Tungsten T)! From the original Pilot 1000 to the Treo 680, little progress has been made in the way of improving the quality or variety of the basic Palm MIDI system sound set. Enter Toysoft’s KoolSounds to remedy this concern.

Essentially an editor for the system-wide alarm/notification/alert effects, KoolSounds permits the user to replace the stock Palm OS sounds with any number of wave/OGG/MP3 files. KoolSounds has integrated file preview playback and a very user-friendly dropdown app list to assign unique sounds to different apps.

Program Testing and Methodology
I ran the KoolSounds version 1.5 without incident on my Treo 700p. The only issue I had was a bit of increased lag when switching apps or doing an NVFS-intensive task while simultaneously sounding an mp3 alarm. Since the lag issues with the 700p are so well documented, this minor annoyance cannot really be attributed to Toysoft.

While I had fun loading my own library of brief sound effects (samples and snippets from various songs and sci-fi movies, my dog barking etc) a helpful listing of online sound effect repositories is helpfully provided within the program’s documentation. I always notice and appreciate small touches like a solid list of links and recommended apps whether it’s from a software developer like Toysoft or a hardware company like TechCenter Labs. Many “veteran” users such as myself are still too busy with daily life to edit our own sound effects while novice users will always appreciate a website chock full of ready-to-download sounds.

Technical Specifications
KoolSounds occupies 104k of main memory. It is compatible with all Palm OS Treos and handhelds running Palm OS 5.0 or higher. It is also compatible with OS5.2.1 Sony Clies (audio hack required), Tapwave’s Zodiac, and Garmin’s OS5 iQue line.

KoolSounds Review - Palm Software KoolSounds Review - Palm Software KoolSounds Review - Palm Software

Pros:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Integrates well with Ptunes and AeroPlayer
  • Supports external storage on SD and internal storage “slots” ala T5/LifeDrive.
  • Reasonably priced
  • List of sound effect download sites provided in the program’s documentation

Cons

  • Playing higher-bitrate MP3 files slightly exacerbates the inherent lag of my 700p
  • User must take to add only short (1-5 seconds is recommended) audio files. It would be helpful if there was an option within the app to truncate an imported audio file at ~5 seconds
  • A handful of included sample sounds would be nice. An integrated sound file download wizard would be fantastic but also beyond the scope of this little app

Conclusion
I usually keep my Treo muted and in vibrate mode throughout the workday so I personally would not find as much value in this sort of program. I did, however, enjoy the capability to replace some of the shrill stock MIDI alerts with short, lower pitched wav files on the rare occasion that I did need a discreet audible notification.

KoolSounds is still a novelty utility at heart but it’s a very well done one. I can heartily recommend it to fussy Treo owners who want to customize every aspect of their device and/or have a particular need for a certain type of system sounds . KoolSounds is available now from ToySoft for $12.95.

My Rating: 3.5/5 - Palm Software 3.5 / 5

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