By Colin Stoner 5/11/01
Ease of Use:
I have few complaints with the Ease of Use category. It was a very easy and forward program to install, and it didn’t install other unwanted programs that I had no intention of installing. Loading MP3s was as easy as telling MusicMatch where your Mp3s are, or you could even have it search for them. After the search was performed, a central library was created where your MP3s were always a double mouse click away. This feature is great unless you have an obscene amount of MP3s (a couple thousand), as it will take a long, long time to search for, and import all of them.
As it goes with most MP3 players, Music Match is a pretty ugly looking player. The layout is choppy with the library being far bigger then the actual player, and the added playlist is not as tall as the player. This gives it a weird look and makes me wonder why you wouldn’t increase the size of the playlist to the size of the player, making it a better looking program. Of course, the ugliness of the player can always be changed with new skins. One other gripe I have is that the visualization was incredibly poor. I haven’t seen a frame rate that poor since I was running Doom on a 486 processor over a 14.4 modem. It really does not help MusicMatch win any Beauty Contests.
This part I was very satisfied with. As I mentioned earlier, it was very easy to sort MP3s, as MusicMatch was more then willing to do it for you. To add an MP3 to the playlist, all you needed to do was double click on that MP3 in the library and it adds it directly to your playlist. Only complaint from this category was that you couldn’t play one file directly from the library without first clearing the playlist. This is a very minor detail, but I’m a critic, so it needed to be said.
MP3s will eat a lot of your available RAM. I run an AMD Duron at 700 MHz with 128 MB of PC 100 RAM and a Sound Blaster Live! +MP3, and I can tell the difference when I play MP3s from MusicMatch and write this in Word (of course MS isn’t too gracious with the system memory, either). However, that isn’t why they only received a 3 in this category. After your OS starts up, there is a damned QuickPlay feature that is automatically installed. This leaves a little MusicMatch icon in your system tray and leaves the program active, and running in the background, to make the program start up quicker. It doesn’t matter how quickly the program starts up, because all MusicMatch (or any other program running in the background for that matter) is going to do is eat up system memory when you’re not even using it. Even though it is found on most MP3 players, they will all lose points for it until the problem is solved.
MusicMatch scores major points in the extras category, with one key feature carrying it most of the way. When you’re listening to an MP3, there is a button called Now Playing that you can click on in the main player window. This will change your library listings to a database run by MusicMatch that takes the Author, Track and CD categories from the ID3 tag of the MP3 and gives you information on the artist and album the of song you are listening to in web page form. Under the Now Playing section, you can also directly download any free MP3s that the author released. I thought this was a great feature to add to an MP3 player, and it also enables you to buy the CD through Amazon.com. You will start to see features like ‘Buy Now’ with many MP3 players as it will help them keep out of legal trouble, while putting a couple dollars in their pockets at the same time.
Overall, MusicMatch is a great MP3 player. The Now Playing feature really caught me by surprise by how cool it really was. MusicMatch is a very easy player to use, and my only major concern with the program is that it is ugly. Everybody knows that personality can only get you so far in life!
Colin Stoner is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Colin is also the editor of Experience-Mp3.com.
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