By Colin Stoner 5/08/01
Ease of Use:
The best just got better, and easier, when Nullsoft released Winamp 2.7x. The layout is the same as it has always been, and there were no real changes as far as the program as a whole goes, but making your own skinned Winamp is the easiest I have ever seen a player. If you want to update a skin, you browse the Winamp site, select the skin you want, and after download Winamp will set the skin up for you. This is a new feature to Winamp, and a very handy one that helped the best get better.
There is nothing that Winamp has, as far as Design goes, that can compete with Sonique. However, it is the second best looking of the five reviewed players. The color scheme and overall look is above average. My favorite part about the layout of Winamp is the ability to move windows within the program, like the playlist and equalizer, anywhere you want. Or, if you have no need for these windows, you can close them. This feature puts Winamp ahead of the rest in the layout portion of the category.
As mentioned in Layout/Design, the detachable and hideable feature of the playlist makes it a very efficient and easy to use option. Winamp opts not to use a library, and I will mention something about the library function when I reach system performance. The playlist is very visible and easy to use. It allows you all the regular features of saving and loading playlists, and even includes a jump feature that allows you to type in keywords of a song title or author (basically whatever your file name is) and search through the loaded files in the playlist. Overall, a very solid category for Winamp.
So I promised you an insight into the libraries and system performance and here it is. The only two programs that rated higher then a 3 in System Performance were Sonique and Winamp. Notice that both of these programs do not use libraries. My theory is that that library spends so much system memory listing my mere 150 MP3s, that it forgets it still has to decode an audio file. Donít get me wrong, libraries are a great feature, but there is some polishing up needed in this feature. Do a test of your own if you want. Run a playlist in Sonique or Winamp of only 10-15 songs. You should get a smooth performance with no glitches (if you get a glitch, time to take that Cyrix MII back to the store). Now try running the playlist with 50 or more songs. Scroll through the list, do you notice the difference when playing a song? Libraries cause this system lag the entire time, what a pain. Winamp only loses points in system performance for their Quick Launch feature. What a pain!
Nothing special with Winamp in the Extras category, that is, when you download. Winamp 2.7x was packed with a special Radiohead skin and free live WMA file (ďDollars and CentsĒ). Itís this kind of support from great bands like Radiohead that makes Winamp almost unstoppable. After you download, you have access to the most plug-ins and skins imaginable, I mean they have a racecar game for your MP3 player for crying out loud, thatís unbelievable! All files are available through Winampís website.
Youíd think that after pioneering the MP3 player industry, a company would slow down or maybe face stiffer competition, not Winamp. These guys continue to grow and show no signs of slowing down. They have become the most trusted name in the MP3 industry (ever since Napster announced they would begin selling MP3s) and produce high quality programs release after release.
We would like to welcome Colin Stoner as a new contributer to MP3 Newswire. Colin is also the editor of Experience-Mp3.com.
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