We're always searching for software that can make the perfect ringtone. Sure, you can chew crushed ice, clip your toenails at your desk...

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We’re always searching for software that can make the perfect ringtone.

Sure, you can chew crushed ice, clip your toenails at your desk or pop your finger joints. But to truly annoy office mates, nothing beats a good ringtone, and we tried out three programs that let you create your own.

The conclusion: All three can make a ringtone and get it to your phone somehow. I wouldn’t say it was easy, though. Each product had its own special vexations.

Ringtone Media Studio (Avanquest USA, San Mateo, Calif., $19.95) let me create a ringtone off a music file in less than a minute. The problem came when it was time to transfer it to my phone.

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I clicked the button on the software that said “transfer to phone.” Very quickly, the software told me that it couldn’t find a Bluetooth device, even though my phone already had the Bluetooth wireless connection up and running and talking to my computer.

Instead, I had to back in to the transfer — using the Bluetooth connection to open the cellphone’s folders on my computer, then dump the ringtone file into the cellphone’s music folder.

It wasn’t a big problem — it just wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

Ringtone Media Studio also converts photos for cellphone use, a feature I tried and liked. It also promised the ability to record voices directly into the computer and into a ringtone, a feature I didn’t try.

Magix Ringtone Maker (Magix, Germany, $19.95) offers more sophisticated editing. With practice, a user can choose the snippet of sound for the ringtone fairly easily, about on par with Ringtone Media Studio.

Just as with the first product, the Magix software worked fine until it was time to send the ringtone to my phone. Like Ringtone Media Studio, Magix Ringtone Maker couldn’t seem to find a Bluetooth connection. So again, it was time to drag the file from the computer’s music folder over to the cellphone’s music folder.

The third product, Xingtone Ringtone Maker (Xingtone, Los Angeles, $19.95, sold by Roxio) was both a disaster and a triumph. On my Windows computer, the software gets an “incomplete” grade; I tried without luck to get a music file to load from a CD into the program. I’ll have to troubleshoot that problem further.

But Xingtone Ringtone Maker is the only one of the three that also runs on the Macintosh. Although the software crashed several times before it successfully loaded a music file, it was a simple matter to snip a bit of sound and create a ringtone.

Even better, it sent my phone a text message to transfer the ringtone effortlessly — less than 15 seconds from the time I told Xingtone to send the file until it arrived at my phone. Then it was a matter of using the phone to download the ringtone off the Internet.

Xingtone is tough to get going but was the winner in transferring the file as it was supposed to. For the other two, I don’t know whether to blame Bluetooth, operator error or software issues.

Sportster Replay

Sirius Satellite Radio

www.sirius.com; www.radioshack.com


The Sirius Sportster Replay helps busy sports fans stay tuned while on the road. Similar to TiVo’s TV recording devices, the mobile system lets you “pause” up to 44 minutes of live satellite radio and play it back later.

The device displays scores on its screen, lets you know when a favorite team is about to start a game and issues alerts when a score changes.

The Sportster Replay with Mobile Kit costs $170 and includes a Sportster Replay receiver, a remote control, a docking cradle, a windshield suction-cup mount, a magnetic antenna and a vehicle power adapter.

A subscription to Sirius radio, which delivers NFL, NBA, NHL and college sports games, as well as commercial-free music, costs $12.95 a month.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service