Songbird 1.0 review
iTunes has pretty much everything you’d want from a media library. Like the iPod, it’s a design classic, adopted by both Mac and Windows users as their player of choice. Songbird is clearly inspired by iTunes in both looks and functionality – with player controls and media library top and centre, while a sidebar on the left gives you access to the program’s many features. You can import iTunes’ existing library or search for songs on any connected drive. The program plays tunes in most audio formats.
A closer look reveals that Songbird has advantages over iTunes. Its open architecture means that plug-ins can be used to extend the basic features of the application. In fact, there’s a plug-in bundle included in the default download that adds MP3 player support, Last.fm connectivity and more. Favourites of ours include the ability to connect to concert ticket search service Songkick and inline connectivity with The Hype Machine.
Using The Hype Machine – an online service that aggregates music blogs and free MP3 sources – reveals one of Songbird’s most powerful features. It scrapes music links from web pages (rendered using the built-in Mozilla browser) and lets you download them. It’s a great way to find free music – and it also connects to Amazon, iTunes Store and eMusic to offer commercial tunes.
On the downside, there’s no built-in CD ripping or burning, though it will play CDs. Video playback’s missing too, though both features are promised for a future version. At the moment, think of Songbird as a tool to use alongside iTunes – a great way to find new music and add it to your existing library.