Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Windows Media Player v on XP review

I mostly listen to music, audio books and podcasts on an mp3 player. But sometimes when i'm at work, the battery is low. My mp3 player can be recharged by plugging it into a computer USB port. Unfortunately, i can't then use it to listen to whatever. It can only either operate or be charged, not both. However, if i plug it into a computer, the computer can mount the device. However, the computer doesn't know where the device was last in a track. And, when i want to use the device again, the device doesn't know where the computer was. I handle this mostly by listening to whole tracks on the computer, and different tracks than i used last on the device.

The sound quality for my computer at work is comparable to the sound quality on the device. In both cases, i'm using the same headphones, which appears to be the primary limit for quality.

I thought Media Player on Windows XP could play any mp3 track. However, in one case, Windows Explorer identified a track as mp3 that Media Player wouldn't play. It turned out to be 192 Kbps variable rate encoded. My mp3 device played it without complaint.

Media Player can be excused from not being able to play Ogg Vorbis files. This Media Player was released in 2002, which is also the first year that Ogg reference software was released. It took forever for portable audio devices to support it. I used to convert all tracks to mp3 format. But now that i own a device that can play Ogg files, i prefer it. I can't update Media Player to some newer version. I can't install real software. I don't own the computer, and my employer does not allow me to install anything on it.

Another glitch in Media Player is that it doesn't smoothly go from track to track. There's always a short pause. Every now and then, music is split into tracks, but the audio was originally played continuously. It can be an annoyance. It's not a performance issue. It's just buffering. Windows Media Player didn't bother to get the software right.

Sometimes, if you select a bunch of tracks at once in an Explorer window, and tell it to play, Windows Media Player plays them in some apparently random order. They appear sorted in the Explorer listing, but appear shuffled in Media Player. It looked like Media Player was playing in directory order, but the mp3 player actually plays in directory order by default. I put the files on the device so that directory order is sorted order. The play order can be changed on Media Player one at a time. I thought there was no sort function, because there isn't such an option in the menus. However, there's a playlist button, and a sort option appears there. Mostly, i play one track at a time on Media Player. Both Media Player and my mp3 player device have shuffle modes.

Media player can do a few things that my mp3 player can't. It can play from CD, stream from the Internet, play certain DRM material (not an issue for me), and it offers various distracting visualizations. Fortunately, there is a "no visualization" option. In short, there are no unique features here that i value.

What does the device offer that Media Player does not? It plays a variety of sound file types. It offers more information on how a file is encoded. It smoothly plays from one track to the next. It offers playback equalization. It shows file encoding information. It can play back either 20% fast or 20% slow. It remembers where it was when last playing every track. It plays adjacent tracks without a gap. In short, most of these features are valuable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Internet Blackout

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18th, there will be no blog post here on Predelusional. This is to protest big entertainment companies, the Chamber of Commerce, and their lobbyists attempt to get their way by ramming Internet censorship legislation through the US Senate.

On Thursday, January 19th, there probably won't be any new content either, but you never know.