The Complete Media Player Review (Part 1)
I was hoping all you gHacks readers could help me out with some feedback on one particular topic; Music jukeboxes. I have written up my thoughts, but I would genuinely like to hear all your opinions.
I’m sure we all have our favourites, so I would love to hear exactly what it is that has made you choose what you have. You may use more then one, I know I do. I also understand there is a great number of media players, so I’ve restricted this to just ‘music jukeboxes’, or music management software. I plan to work my way through all the major contenders, starting with Part 1 (WMP and iTunes) today.
I have narrowed down the list so the software must include several criteria:
- Reasonable level of popularity
- Includes all basic music jukebox features such as:
- ripping and burning of music
- music library
- music tagging
- Music categorisation
- Has had at least one non-beta, stable release
- Under active development
For these reasons some players have been excluded, such as Songbird, which is still working towards release 1.0, foobar2000 and VLC popular though they are.
Apologies also for a primarily Windows focused list, I am after all a Windows user (but also dual-booting Ubuntu on occasion) so it’s what I know.
Windows Media Player
The classic. Not too popular these days with music fans, although personally I don’t think it’s too bad. Much of its popularity is due to bundling with Windows, that’s granted. However it’s still one of the better music management applications.
It has a attractive, easy to use interface suited for beginner users. Once you find your music collection growing the library filtering options will begin to become more limiting. I still find it a fairly attractive way for my music library to be displayed, although only if you have properly tagged music complete with album art.
Tagging is decent, you can search for media if it’s inaccurate. Performance is solid, but not stellar, especially once your music collection grows beyond the 8000+ songs mark. In fact I would say once your collection grows beyond 5000 tracks it becomes just to slow to browse in more then the list view, album art drags it down.
Perhaps the best all-round Media software, it includes photo, video, recorded TV and other media management. Unfortunately some of this functionality is totally superfluous, especially with Vista and Photo Gallery.
Unfortunately it is also buggier then it should be, with some persistent bugs, especially when tagging, becoming a real annoyance. The biggest single problem with Windows Media Player is that it no longer seems to have a real purpose.
It’s a great media manager sure, but who is it for? It’s not lightweight, those people will use VLC or something. iPod owners will use iTunes, Zune owners will use the Zune software. For organising recorded TV, Media Center does the job much better and would use it instead of Windows Live Photo Gallery for image management?
I guess we’ll see what happens with WMP in Windows 7.
I must admit, I have very little experience using iTunes. I did try it out a little while ago, but I honestly got so annoyed at the Apple update software I uninstalled the whole thing (the Safari “update” did it for me)
iTunes is very popular, largely because of the connection with the iPod and iTunes Music store, and also because it genuinely is a well-designed, intuitive and useful application. In fact it possibly is the most popular music management and media software, in so small part due to the tight integration with the iTunes online store.
Significant features include the gapless playback, efficient, intuitive and minimal interface, Coverflow, automatic tagging, podcasting and auto-playlists.
One of the biggest iTunes complaints has been the auto-tagging, primarily dodgy support for music not part of the iTunes online store, somewhat unreliable album art downloading and Performance and stability have also reportedly suffered with recent releases, but I can’t give an opinion on that, what have you noticed?
Now I’d love to hear your opinions on both these, wether you use them or not. Tomorrow I plan to cover the major competitors to these two… MediaMonkey and WinAmp.Advertisement