The best media player (movie & music)
"I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. to experience Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista.
While there, I got a hands-on, close-up look at the coolest new Media Player features. I spent time exploring the streamlined interface; I downloaded music from the upcoming MTV Networks music service URGE; and I spent hours customizing views, album art size, and song lists. Media Player 11 had everything I had hoped the new version would and more, as well as just about everything I'd read from the wish lists of community newsgroup posters in the past. It didn't take long to figure out that this was a total makeover of the last version.
Some of the unique features of Media Player 11 are a deeply integrated music library for both online and offline content, a new and improved interface, the ability to connect to additional hardware easily, and integrated, easy-to-use tools for following the process of any task (downloading music, burning CDs, synching music, or streaming video, just to name a few). Media Player 11 has a new integrated feel, too-one that makes online, network, and offline content indistinguishable.
Many of the improvements are due to the redesigned interface, which includes helpful shortcuts on the menus and menu bars, simplified trees and an improved and advanced media library. There are now Back and Forward buttons, giving Media Player a web-browser feel; a lightning-fast WordWheel search tool for getting through the library; and Xbox 360 support. And I'm just getting started! In this article, I'll introduce the features I found most exciting, and features you're going to love when you get your hands on Media Player 11.
Reliability, ease of use, and hardware support
Windows Media Player 11 is by far the most reliable, easy to use, and complete music experience available. In my time with it, I found it to be extremely dependable. It's fast too, and it reminded me of expensive Internet jukeboxes normally found only in nightclubs and bars. As with those high-end players, the line between what's actually on the jukebox and what comes from the Internet is nearly indistinguishable. Media Player 11, in my opinion, is the best jukebox I've ever experienced.
Enhanced, user-friendly interface
The Media Player 11 interface makes finding the media you want easier than ever. The complicated (and sometimes convoluted) trees that once appeared in the Media Player Library are gone. Now when you select a category from the Library, the content in that category appears off to the right instead of under the category on the left. Finally, no more long album and artist listings that scroll into infinity!
With the trees gone, Media Player 11 is easier to navigate than any of its predecessors. There aren't any lines between the trees, album information, or CD cover art, and the default album art view now shows album art and track information in the center of the screen. All of this makes finding the information you want a lot easier.
Along with enhanced views, the buttons at the top of the interface contain new shortcuts. Some of my favorites include adjusting format and bitrate on the fly for CD ripping, and switching back and forth from audio to data settings for CD burning. With these new shortcuts, you'll spend more time viewing and listening to your media, and less time managing it.
Finally, I love the new playback controls at the bottom of the screen. They're large and easy to use, and intuitive enough for anyone to easily operate. No more fumbling around trying to click those small controls from the old Media Player, and no more awkward scrambling for the mute button when your boss enters the room. "
by Joli Ballew
Related article - Microsoft announces Windows Media Player 11