One thing a growing number of people are turning to are online audio services like Audible and Audiofeast to provide them with alternatives to music for their players. These two services offer up things like audio books, newspapers, magazines and other types of spoken content which can be downloaded for your listening enjoyment.
What is the advantage of having say, The Da Vinci Code or eBay Radio, over music? It depends upon your needs. Often, music will serve you just fine as your primary audio on your player. Its great for working out to, taking away the stress of the day and all those other things which make it so popular.
Other times, having someone read you that book you never get the chance to buy at your corner bookstore, or listening to your favorite NPR program on your own timetable, is the better way to go. This type of audio content is especially suited for long commutes, flights, and other times where you want entertainment which has more than just a beat.
Before we take a look at two of the top services, Audible and Audiofeast, a general rundown of how you get hold of this type of content is in order. As is the case most of the time, these things cost money. Subscription plans, which often allow you to download a certain amount of audio each month, can vary by price. Depending upon the provider, you may end up choosing from a yearly or monthly plan.
Since these services are constantly trying to attract new members, deals will often be offered which can be very attractive. One of the most popular is to bundle a MP3 player from companies like iRiver and Apple with a one year subscription to the service. For those who dont have MP3 players, or who are looking to upgrade, this may be a way to go.
Once your money is plunked down, the next step is usually to download software to your desktop or laptop. After installed, this will serve as your main way of transferring audio programs from the service to your player. Typically, you will select the audio content either directly from the software or through the services website. The software is then used to download your new purchases. As with all other things you download, how long it actually takes to get to your computer depends upon the size of the audio file and the speed of your Internet connection. After the download is complete, you can send it directly to your player.
A very important thing to note: not all MP3 players are supported by these types of services. Owing to technology issues, only certain brands and models will be compatible. Typically, these services will make sure they have deals signed with major manufacturers so the likelihood of your player being supported if it is from a well known company is high. Its worth checking first though on the services website before signing up.
As for the specific types of content available, a more thorough breakdown by service is given further on. Generally, audiobooks (abridged and unabridged), periodicals, news, talk and special interest programs, old and new radio programs and other types of spoken audio programs are available. Often, these items come as individual downloads you pay for either as part of your monthly (or yearly) fee or on an individual basis. Other times, especially in the case of items like the Wall Street Journal or NPRs Hourly Update, items are refreshed frequently and available as part of a specific subscription option.
With the groundwork now laid for services which bring the spoken word to your portable audio devices, lets take a look at two of the companies with the best offerings: Audible and Audiofeast.