Xingtone Ringtone Creator allows the user to create their own ringtones from digital media files of their choosing. It is a very simple system that is user friendly and easy to navigate. Right out of the gate, even a novice user can figure out how to make it work.
The basic concept is to open a digital sound file from a computer drive and then edit the contents into a ringtone. The modified sound can then sent to the user’s cell phone. All it takes is a software download from the Xingtone.com website and a subscription. Xingtone offers interested parties the ability to check to see if their phone model is supported as well as a free trial during which they can create a single ringtone. But to continue beyond the first ringtone, Xingtone requires the user to register and purchase a serial number. The serial number is specific to a single cell phone number and not transferable across phones. The serial number is fairly inexpensive, costing $19.95, and comparable in price to other services. Xingtone does offer a discount to those users who want to buy in bulk, with the second serial number costing only $9.95 when purchased at the same time as the first.
Once subscribed, the user must register their phone make, model, carrier, phone number, and serial number in order to begin receiving ringtones on their phone. From that point on, the process of creating and sending the ringtone couldn’t be much more straightforward.
The single greatest feature of the product is its user interface. [See Image 1: Xingtone Main Screen] The wrapper has a very clean design that is easy to move around in. All of the file navigation functionality is contained on the left-hand side and the support functionality on the right. At the bottom of the screen are the digital image and editing tools. [See Image 3: Xingtone Edit Menu] If there is anything to say about the tool, it is that it may be a little too simple. The Easy editing mode is just that–easy. It simply allows users to select a portion of a digital media file and then send it to their phone. The tools provided in the Advanced editing mode are more robust and allow the user to normalize the sound, fade in or out, and increase or decrease the volume. Overall, the editing functionality is nothing fancy and doesn’t really set the tool apart from others on the market.
From a performance perspective, the tool responds very quickly. A single ringtone can be created in less than a minute using the Easy editing mode. The amount of time required to use the Advanced editing features really depend upon how much time the user wants to put into the ringtone. When all is said and done, a ringtone created in the Advanced editing mode should really take no more than ten minutes to complete. To send the tone, the user simply clicks the Send button and the tone is sent to the phone registered with the serial number. The phone receives a text message with an embedded link for downloading the ringtone. As long as the user has a strong cellular signal, this part of the process is very efficient.
Price to Value (3 out of 5)
Like many of its competitors, Xingtone’s software is free for download. Xingtone does offer a free trial so that the user can test drive the application before signing on. The free trial allows the user to create a single ringtone from their own personal audio files. This ringtone can then be modified into ten different variations and sent to the phone to get just the right tone.
The free download is a bit confusing. To actually use the software, the user must purchase a serial number for a cost of $19.95. The serial number is tied to a specific cell phone number and usable only by that nubmer. For an additional $9.95, an additional serial number may be purchased at the same time as the first serial number, so there is a break for buying in bulk. If the user chooses to wait to buy a second serial number, they will have to pay the full $19.95.
One of the hidden costs of this application is the cost the user must pay their cellular service provider to download ringtone to the phone. If the user is not on a data package, the user may be facing some additional data usage fees to access the Internet and download the ringtone to their handset.
Installation & Setup (3 out of 5)
Installation is very simple and merely requires the user to visit the Xingtone website (www.xingtone.com). A serial number is required to create the ringtones, which is where the $19.95 fee comes into play. Once installed, the user registers their phone and is off and creating.
The registration process can be confusing. The user must select a cellular provider, which sounds straightforward. However, given the changes that continue to occur with Cingular and AT&T Wireless, the three choices of carriers was difficult to navigate. If the selection doesn’t work, the user can always keeping trying others until they find the right carrier.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The user interface is very straightforward and easy to navigate. The left-hand side is dedicated to file browsing, while the right-hand side is for help and support. The bottom of the screen provides clip-viewing and -editing features.
On the main screen, there are a number of helpful links for first time users, including Tips, Tutorial, About Your Phone, and Popular Tones. [See Image 1: Xingtone Main Screen]
The level of editing functionality is up to the user. Buttons identify the Easy or Advanced editing settings. The drop-down menu structure is very similar to that of Microsoft Windows applications.
Once the user selects About Your Phone, it is difficult to navigate back to the main screen to see the other useful links. The easiest way to do this is to actually close the application and reopen it.
Help & Support (4 out of 5)
There are a number of help options available. From the Help menu, the user can access the following:
- Instructions: Presents the user with a Quick Start Guide and Important Help page. [See Image 2: Xingtone Instructions]
- Buy Serial #: Opens a web form where the user can purchase a serial number.
- User Registration: Navigates to the registration form, where the user can set up their ringtone account and service.
- Xingtone’s Home Page: Navigates to the Xingtone home page.
Other support links include:
- Tips: Provides the user with tips for creating better-sounding ringtones.
- Tutorials: Walks the user through how to create a ringtone from start to finish.
- About Your Phone: Provides information about the specific handset that the user registered. Also provides the user the ability to select a different handset model. [See Image 4: Xingtone About Your Phone]
- Need Help: Opens the Support page at xingtone.com.
It seems that Xingtone provides all the support it can on its website and within the application because it only provides email support. Issue resolution is dependent upon how quickly a representative responds and how clearly they can type the steps to resolve the issue. There also did not appear to be a service level provided on the support page, so there is no definitive timing of a response from email support.
Many users prefer to speak with a live person to resolve their support issues. These users may find it to be a difficult adjustment to make.
Performance (3 out of 5)
The tool is actually pretty impressive and works as explained. The total time required to create a ringtone is really just minutes and is mostly dependent on how much editing the user chooses to complete. Once the ringtone is created and the download link sent to the cell phone, the text is received almost immediately and the download to the phone is very quick (assuming the user has good cell coverage).
On the other hand, the editing functionality is not all that robust. Sure, users can cut clips, normalize the sound, fade in or out, and increase or decrease the volume, but these really aren’t intricate processes and don’t really change the overall sound that much.
Product Features (2 out of 5)
The application has a few features that users will appreciate, but none really make it a standout product:
- Basic editing functionality makes it easy for a novice to use.
- File browsing is easy to do through a Windows-like menu. [See Image 5: Xingtone Browse Files]
- Clip editing is pretty easy to figure out, even without viewing the tutorial as all icons have tooltip descriptions of what they do.
- Xingtone Blog is a discussion board about Xingtone and provides the latest news on the company and industry.
- eMusic is a link to a subscription site where the user can join and download MP3 files for a flat monthly fee.
The basic features are pretty comparable to competitors and don’t really make the product all that special.
The Other Stuff link includes links to neat gadgets. However, once the user navigates using this link, they will be bombarded with pop-up ads. This is pretty intense and can be very annoying.
Currently, email is the only personal contact support available and it doesn’t enable a user to resolve their issue in a very timely fashion. Phone support would allow users to get an immediate resolution for their issue.
The existing ringtone editing functionality is somewhat limiting. More robust editing functionality would make this product stand out among its competitors.
All in all, Xingtone is a basic ringtone creation software application. While it is priced reasonably, it is still about $3 more than DJ ToneXpress, a direct competitor. The short learning curve, ease of navigation, and efficiency make it a solid and functional tool for the novice user. But as the user gains a comfort level with the tool, they may become discouraged by its limitations. Those users who are really into ringtones and like to get very creative will be sorely disappointed with the editing features. Sure, it is includes the basics, but that is about it.
Tone This, My Phone Files and Media Shop, DJ ToneXpress, AudioGizmo Ringtone Creator