iTunes ain't the only gig in town

One of our favorite iTunes alternatives updates, and a pioneer all-in-one messenger opens its famously private beta to all.

All eyes may be on Apple this week as the Cupertino, Calif. company is set to release its iPhone 3.0 firmware and iPhone 3G S phone. But unless you number among the 10 percent of smartphone owners who actually has an iPhone, there's little reason you need iTunes, especially to organize your digital music. MediaMonkey is an excellent freemium jukebox that handles large collections especially well. Just updated to version 3.1, its ID3 tags, CD and DVD, and full-featured encoder are just the beginning. A $20 upgrade gets you, among other things, on-the-fly file conversion to your personal media player of choice.

Other alternatives, like the free, open-source Songbird and aTunes, are also definitely worth your time and attention. CNET Editor Seth Rosenblatt explains what differentiates them here.

IM fans, jot this down

After three years of development, Cerulean Studios has finally flung open the doors to Trillian Astra beta, the latest in its all-in-one chat application. We shared our viewpoints on Trillian Astra while it was still in closed beta (here and here); now it's your turn to tell us what you think. Oh, and if you're still opening multiple IM applications to talk to different groups of friends, waste no time downloading Trillian Astra beta now to get the feel of multinetwork instant messaging.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.