Q. What's the best way to listen to podcasts without data usage while in the car?
-John from Clinton, Iowa, listens to Kim's national radio show via podcast with Kim's Club
A. Podcasts are a lot of fun to listen to whether you're doing projects at home, exercising, traveling, or just want to learn something new. However, if you have a spotty signal, or a gadget that only has Wi-Fi, it can make streaming a podcast on the go a bit difficult. Fortunately, there's a simple solution.
First, however, we know not everyone is as familiar with podcasts as John, so here's a quick introduction. The name "podcast" is a mashup of "iPod" and "broadcast," which should clue you in that it isn't really a new thing, but it's been exploding in popularity for the last few years.
A podcast can technically be any type of media, from audio or video to an eBook, but most people usually use it to refer to an audio program. In audio form, a podcast is very similar to a radio show, and typically has a regular schedule.
A podcast can be any length, on any topic and with a wide variety of hosts. There are informational podcasts, comedy podcasts, call-in podcasts, scripted podcasts similar to old radio serials, and dozens of other genres. If you have a subject you're interested in, there's probably a podcast about it.
Kim has her own podcast called "Komando On Demand" that centers on technology. You'll get the latest news from the digital world, interviews with tech icons like a former CEO of Intel or the voice of Siri, a tour through the dark underbelly of the Internet, and much more. Plus, like many podcasts, it's free. Start listening to "Komando on Demand" here. Of course, that brings us back to the question of the best way to listen to podcasts on the go.
Most podcasts are available for download as standard audio files in MP3 format. If you're on our podcast page, you can click the "Download" button or the "Download" icon to grab any podcast. In iTunes or Apple's Podcast app, there's a download icon that looks like a downward arrow exiting a cloud. In the Android app BeyondPod, tap the icon with an arrow pointing down at a line.
Once you download the files, you can play it with any gadget that can play music files. If you're planning a car trip, just download the latest episodes of your favorite podcasts to your smartphone, tablet or computer using your home Wi-Fi. Then hook your smartphone or tablet into your car's stereo, or burn a CD from your computer.
That's fine for a single podcast that you listen to occasionally. However, when you're listening to a dozen or more, and they're all on different schedules, you want a more automated solution.
What you really want to do is subscribe to your favorite podcasts. Whenever a new podcast is released, you'll get a notification and there are programs that can even download it automatically for you. You just need to set it up.
iTunes (PC and Mac)
In iTunes, you can go to the iTunes Store and browse the podcasts, or type "Komando On Demand" into the search bar in the upper-right corner. Click on the name of the podcast you want, and you'll see a list of episodes.
Click on the "Subscribe" button below the podcast image on the left. Confirm you want to subscribe and the most recent podcast episode will download to your computer. New episodes will also download automatically.
You can burn these files to a CD or transfer them to a media player or flash drive that will plug into many modern car stereos. If your car stereo doesn't support media players, you can upgrade it with an FM modulator.
For the Podcasts app on your Apple gadget, search or browse for a podcast you want to subscribe to, such as "Komando On Demand." Then tap on the podcast and then tap on the purple "Subscribe" button.
This adds the podcast to the "My Podcasts" area and downloads the latest podcast episode. If you want to download previous episodes podcasts, go down the episode list and tap the downward arrow coming out of a cloud.
Podcasts will also download any new podcast episodes that are released. Downloaded podcasts will be deleted 24 hours after you've listened to them, or marked it as played. To keep an episode download around, or remove a download you don't care for, tap the circle "i" icon and choose "Mark as Played," "Save Episode" or "Delete Download."
For the BeyondPod app on Android, search or browse to find a podcast you like, such as "Komando On Demand." Tap on it then tap the "Subscribe" button at the top of the page.
BeyondPod will start downloading the latest episode. To listen, tap the icon with the three horizontal lines in the upper-left corner and look under "All feeds." Tap "Komando On Demand" and the latest episode will show up. In the title bar, where it says "My Episodes," you can tap and see all the available episodes for the podcast. You can stream or download any of them you wish.
There are a lot of controls for how BeyondPod downloads and stores podcasts. Tap the icon with the three horizontal lines in the upper-left corner and then choose "Settings." Under General Settings>>Feed Defaults you can choose how BeyondPod handles new episodes (the default is to download automatically), how many episodes to download at once (the default is 1) and how many episodes of each podcast to keep at once (the default is 5). If you want to avoid running out of space, you can set that last one lower.
Or you can go back to the main Settings page and go to Playlist Settings>>After Playing and change it to "Delete and Play Next." That deletes podcasts after you're done listening.
From the main Settings page, you can also change Player Settings>>Streaming Preferences to "Wi-Fi Only" to avoid streaming audio over cellular. You can even go to "Feed Update Settings" and turn on "Download on WiFi Only" to prevent BeyondPod from downloading episodes using your cellular plan.
There are plenty of other podcast apps out there as well, if you want to look around. Ones like Audioboom work for both Android and Apple, in case you don't like Apple's default podcast app.
Podcasts (Windows Phone)
On a Windows Phone, go Start and tap "Marketplace." Then tap the "Podcasts" app. You can either browse the podcasts or tap the magnifying glass to search for one. Once you find a podcast, tap it and then tap "Subscribe." Set the download settings to how you would like them and then tap "Confirm."
To change the download settings for a podcast, tap Start>>Music+Videos, scroll to "Zune" and then tap "Podcasts." Tap on a podcast and then tap "Series settings."
A handy podcast companion
A smartphone or tablet is an easy way to play podcasts, but after a while the headphones just get annoying. Maybe you're cooking and don't want wires in the way, or you just don't want to be wearing headphones. The average gadget speaker isn't going to cut it.
What you need is a Bluetooth speaker. Simply pair your gadget to it and you can stream high-quality audio. Listen to whatever you want, wherever you want.
The Komando Connect Bluetooth Speaker is a great example. It's portable with a battery so you can move it anywhere in the house, take it outside, or even take it camping. It has enough volume to fill a room with high-quality stereo sound; you can even link up two of them for additional volume and stereo effect.
If you don't want to tie up your gadget, the Komando Connect can play audio files off a microSD card. It's perfect for podcasts, audiobooks or whatever music you enjoy. Learn more about this must-have piece of audio equipment.