In previous posts, I’ve promised that I would continue my review of the Vye S37 with a discussion of music players. Although I started working on the post quite a while back, I’ve held off on completing and publishing as I realized that I really needed to spend more time using the various players.
In this post, I am going to talk about Microsoft’s Windows Media variants: Windows Media Player 11, Origami Experience, and Windows Media Center. For many UMPC owners, I’m sure these are essentially the default choices for music playback. On my eo v7110, I pretty much exclusively used a combination of WMP and Origami Experience and they were the first players that I tried on my Vye as well. In time, I found them to fall short of many of my needs, though. I eventually tried a few other products and ended up selecting Media Monkey as my preferred music player. In the near future, I will write up a separate post entirely about that product.
Finding the right music player for use on my Vye was essential as it is one of my key uses. I have a big CD collection that I have accumulated over many years and have put a lot of time and effort into ripping them all to digital copies. My wish to have my whole library on my UMPC was a major motivator in buying the Vye and upgrading it to a 250GB hard drive.
Part of the reason for the large size of my collection is that only a fairly small percentage of it consists of typical 10 track or so pop albums. Instead, I have a very extensive collection of film scores and compilations as well as quite a bit of classical, Broadway and film musicals, and other similarly specialized music. In those genres, many of the CDs approach the 75 minute maximum and frequently have large numbers of fairly short tracks. My collection includes over 1,400 albums with over 26,000 separate tracks.
When I first started the process of copying my CDs to digital files, hard disk space was a lot more expensive than it is now. In order to limit the space needed a bit, I stuck with MP3 files at 128 kbps. The sound quality on that isn’t bad, but certainly could be better. Now that you can get a terabyte of storage for not too much more than $200, I’ve been re-ripping the entire collection in the lossless, open-source FLAC format. Obviously, those files are still too big to be practical for the Vye. For the portable use, I have converted each of the FLAC files to 128kbps WMA files, which are roughly the same size as the old MP3 versions, but with a better sound quality.
A music library this large does tend to be a bit of a challenge for most digital jukebox software. That is a lot of meta data to keep track of and I also need a user interface that doesn’t make it too overwhelmingly difficult to locate whatever particular music I am looking for at any given time.
After the jump, I go into a more in-depth discussion of the 3 Windows Media based music players.