Saturday, February 5, 2011

Liking XMPlay

Winamp's been my default mp3 player since I discovered mp3s, but it's been getting ahead of me over the past few years. I think it started one time when I updated it and it made itself the default video player. It pretty much sucked as a video player then and as far as I know it sucks as one now (see the bottom of this post for my default video player).

Winamp's been adding more and more new features, some of them cool, most of them annoyances. How sick am I of clicking away the dialog that pops up every time I plug in an USB drive, flash or otherwise, asking me if I want Winamp to manage it. I'll tell you if I want you to manage it, Winny Old Chap.

I've been looking for a player on and off for years now. The trouble is I love Winamp's interface, I just hate all the extra bullshit they've started shoehorning into it. I used foobar for a while, it's nice and super-customizable, but perhaps a bit too advanced for me and takes up a lot of screen real estate unless you want to install a dozen plugins.

SnackAmp is interesting but a bit dated. In Linux I use Audacious and it's awesome, but there's no windows build available. VLC can kind of work as a mp3 player and even has some skins that seem to be dedicated to that function but the playlist editing isn't as capable as I'd like it to be.

Well I finally stumbled on the perfect program. XMPlay (you have to click on "XMPlay" in the sidebar to get to it's page).

So what's so great about it? It's small, a downloadable zip file weighing in at 330KB. It's very customizable. I set the playlist to shuffle and I noticed when I try to go forward or backwards a track it goes in their proper order. That's right, you can have it shuffle when tracks are continuously played but seek tracks in their order in the playlist. That's pretty cool, though I don't use it that way.

It also has fully customizable global hotkeys--global hotkeys allow you to control the player no matter what application you're in. I have it set up so I hit ctrl+alt+z to skip back a track, ctrl+alt+x to skip forward, and ctrl+alt+space to play/pause a song. In XMPlay you set individuals key bindings as global hotkeys, which is a pretty cool idea.

The Euphoria skin (pictured above) is pretty awesome--you'll find it on XMPlay's download page. There are playlist and equalizer windows you can show and hide at will. To shrink the whole thing, player and all, you just double-click anywhere there aren't any buttons. By default it stays on top of other windows in this "mini" mode, but not in full mode. You can change that in the settings too, making it always on top or never in both modes.

In all honesty I've only been playing with this for less than an hour, and barring a lot of terrible bugs cropping up, I already like it a lot better than Winamp. It's lighter weight, no install process (compared to Winamp's minefield install process), and I like it's mini mode way better than Winamp's.

It took a handful of years, but I finally found a replacement for Winamp, one that is in no way a compromise.

Who says I never did anything with my life?


P.S. - I use SMPlayer as my default video player btw, I like having audio track and subtitle selection panels embedded in the skin, and it's cross-platform (I even have it installed on my Nokia N900, yes I am a tool). I also keep VLC and Media Player Classic (via CCCP) handy on all my PCs just in case though.

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