What's Wrong With iTunes?
Sometimes people will react oddly if you knock on Apple's popular media player and distribution center, iTunes. And that's because iTunes is a fine program. It does everything that it is supposed to, and it has a clean interface that is easy to use no matter who you are. There's nothing really wrong with iTunes, and that is why it's the most well known and easily recognizable media player out there right now.
However, to say that iTunes is the best media player simply because it is the most common in a bit like saying that the Toyota Camry is the best car in the world simply because it's the most common. Like iTunes, the Camry is a fine car that will suit everybody's needs, but that doesn't mean you have to stop yourself from checking out a BMW.
Below are some of the problems with Apple's software that we are looking to improve upon with our alternatives:
- Faster launch. While Apple software tends to start up pretty fast on a Mac, over on the Windows side, we're all pretty sick of waiting. This isn't 2003. There is no reason that music-playing software should take longer to launch than it takes to load up a casette tape- faster is better here.
- More file formats. Chances are, you download the occasional video or song from the internet. Just because it isn't the .MP3 or .MP4 formats that Apple is in love with doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to play them. Ideally, a media player just be an end-all solution for enjoying any of your content.
- Simple interface. Part of what makes iTunes such a beloved piece of software around the world is that it's just as easy for you to learn to use it as it is your grandmother. While Winamp may indeed be the "ultimate media player", we won't be including anything like that on our list, at least until you can sell grandma on how learning to download plug-ins will make Frank Sinatra sound better.
The Best Options Out There
Spotify is more than just a superior way to play your music, it's a whole new way of paying more it too. In a world where everyone seems to prefer the "pay-as-you-go" route, Spotify is a somewhat standalone product. Rather than paying $.99 or $1.29 per song like you would on iTunes, a Spotify Premium membership will cost you $9.99 per month, but that's it. You can stream as many song as many times as you want, ad-free. It really can save you money in the long run, assuming you hear more than 10 songs per month you're interested in.
Spotify also has an offline mode, so even if you're not connected to the internet, it still allows you to have more than 3,000 songs with you. As a media player, Spotify features all of the same features that iTunes has, and can display the same information about songs you've come to expect. The interface shares distinct similarities, so you will feel right at home right away. The only big difference? Spotify launches faster, so even if you don't want to pay the $9.99 membership, you can still enjoy the free online music streaming and more zippy startup time.
MediaMonkey deserves a special place on this list for several of its great features. However, the most important thing that it can do for you is seemlessly sync with the rest of your iDevices. No other media player (other than iTunes) can make that claim. This is such an innovation with this type of software, that it could end up being a major game-changer for the digital music scene. It used to be that if you had an iPhone, and wanted to keep an updated library of the tracks on your mobile and your computer, you pretty much had to use iTunes, or manually do everything yourself, which was a huge waste of time.
In addition to syncing your library of iOS devices, MediaMonkey is also superior to iTunes in a couple of ways. It's a far better piece of software for keeping your library organized, yet somehow manages to still be faster when doing just about anything. If you've are someone who has ever faced the problem of trying to sort out a large collection of music, then MediaMonkey is the ideal media player for you. Everything about this software screams organization, and tidyness, in a pretty, easy to use package. They also have paid version that costs around $25, and has tons of additonal features, the most interesting of which involves mass file conversion tools.
Clementine is a fantastic media player that is easy to use whether you are on Windows, Mac, or Linux. It's completely 100% free, and is particularly popular among Linux users, making it one of the most-used media players with many distributions. It has better tools for helping to organize your library than iTunes, and has features like the ability to download missing cover art from Last.fm. You can also get the same type of artist and lyric information that other software will charge you an extra fee for. Other advanced abilities are also included. You can make tabbed playlists, play a variety of file formats, and even control the software with a remote controller from your Nintendo Wii! Also, the way it organizes the source of your music is really cool and pretty.
Speed is what really sets Clementine apart from the crowd though. It's so fast the first times you use it, you're going to realize just how sluggish iTunes is. There are just so many little delays, whether it be opening up iTunes, clicking on a song to play it, or time in between songs. You'll be even more bugged by these delays after experiencing how fast Clementine is. It also isn't a drain on system resources, making it the best choice if you have an older machine you're trying to stretch the life out of.
Other honorable mentions include:
- VLC Media Player