By Colin Stoner 5/14/01
Ease of Use:
I almost gave up on RealJukebox before I even reviewed it. Just opening an MP3 was a headache. There was no feature to open up a single song, as it uses a library feature similar to that of MusicMatch Jukebox. Getting the files into the library was another problem as well. I had to go through 5 different menus before I was able to find a wizard that arranged my files. That cost RealJukebox huge in the Ease of Use category. RealJukebox uses a similar layout to MusicMatch and is a web type interface using links to select program functions. Another huge pain in the ass is that you have to install Real Player along with RealJukebox.
Once again, an MP3 player has let me down in the Layout/Design category. RealJukebox looks the same as Real player, which is nothing but bland grays, blues and blacks. You can, as is the theme with all MP3 players reviewed, change the skin or create your own. Even this doesnít seem like it would help RealJukebox, however, because it is nothing but a single window that canít be rearranged. The design of the Home Page in the library is nice, but not enough to save this sinking ship. Besides, nice is for people that think Real Audio is top-notch audio quality. The only real plus of RealJukebox is that the visualization options are pretty cool and the graphics are quite pleasing to the eye, except for the sheep (Annabelle), what the hell is that doing there?
This is RealJukeboxís strong suit and saved it from getting a one on Ease of Use. The Home Page is a great feature for RealJukebox to build on for future versions, and is very easy to use. It gives you a web-like link to search for music on the Internet, Access Your Music and an easy CD Burning link. RealJukebox also accesses a database to give you biographies and discographies about the artist you are currently listening to (requires active internet connection). The only thing that hurt RealJukebox in this category was that the track listing is real bland looking. Otherwise, no complaints from me.
You will hear this over and over again, that stupid icon that they let run in the system tray damages your system performance. Do we really care if the MP3 loads three seconds faster? Or would we rather run Adobe Go Live and listen to 107.7 the end (Seattle radio station) and let our system run in peace? There are no other noticeable hindrances to the system, but Iím a little sketchy about having Real Player mandatory for RealJukebox to run. Maybe it just uses some .dll files, but I doubt it.
RealJukebox comes with some cool extras like easy access to your portable MP3 players for quick uploading. It advertises easy CD Burning, but itís nothing more then an advertisement where you can buy Adaptec EZ CD Creator 4.0 or buy a select few CD Burners. That was a major letdown.
If you are a die-hard Real Networks fan, this is the player for you. If you think Windows Media player is a waste of your time, stay far, far away from this one. Most of itís cool features turn out to be nothing more then advertisements.
Colin Stoner is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Colin is also the editor of Experience-Mp3.com.
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