Promising the "Crazy Frog's obituary", Xingtone pledges to rid the world of unoriginal, expensive ringtones. Primarily, it would seem, by offering slightly less expensive tones that encourage users to infringe copyright. Okay, maybe not exactly encourage, but it's certainly not doing anything that would constitute preventing or even informing.

It works a little bit like this: load up Xingtone's sub-standard audio editor, snip out a suitable ringtone-length section of a track and then, and this is the truly staggering bit, upload it to Xingtone so it can charge you up to £1.50 to download it again from your phone. Nice work if you can get it. The software itself is basic. Very basic. To create your ringtone you get one chance to mark a selection - you can't even adjust the beginning and end points once you've selected them without having to start all over again.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile-phone handset reviews and the best tariffs

You must then send the clip to Xingtone, for what it terms 'processing'. That'll be making an MP3 to you and me. This may vary by phone type, but it offers nothing more than basic format conversion which many free applications could do. Xingtone will then send you an SMS, with a link to download the track so you can get it on your phone. Quite why you'd pay a quid or more to do this when there are plenty of free methods available isn't explained.

And we found the download process often failed. On one occasion it took two transmissions for a successful tone-to-phone journey, doubling the cost. Two flavours are available: download it from the website and it will cost you £1.50 per tone. Buy the retail pack for £15 and you get 15 included, after which it'll cost you a pound a pop. The press release may include a footnote saying the service shouldn't be used with copyright protected music, but there's no obvious warning in the software.

Xingtones Ringtones Now: Specs

  • 350MHz Pentium II or greater
  • Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 20MB hard disk space
  • sound card and speaker
  • internet connection
  • supported mobile phone
  • 350MHz Pentium II or greater
  • Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 20MB hard disk space
  • sound card and speaker
  • internet connection
  • supported mobile phone

OUR VERDICT

This is a monumentally ridiculous service. Other companies may sign people up to excessively-priced subscriptions services when they want only one tone, but shame on Xingtone for trying to exploit this.

Find the best price