So, by the time you are reading this songbird 1.0 will have been released.
http://getsongbird.com
Its actually the 27th November just now, and I have received an email from Ethan Bauman at songbirdsnest.com
telling me that they are going to release the 1.0 build and asking me if I would like an advanced copy so that I can review it.
obviously I accepted =)

well, I’m going to do an in depth review of this release, so that you all know exactly what its about.
I have a couple of days to do all this, so expect a few videos and a lot of pics….

the review will be split into a few different parts…

Introduction
Installation
First use
Advanced stuff
Using the player over an extended period of time
will I continue to use this player as my default ?
recommendations for future stuff.

hopefully I have enough time to get all this done.

Introduction.

One of the main things I liked about songbird was the Itunes library import – It imports all the songs from your itunes library and puts them into songbird, including all your playlists, which is a great feature if you use itunes.
another of the fantastic features of songbird is that its based on the same technology as firefox – you can browse webpages in it, and you can download addons that increase the features of your songbird. all these things make for a fantastic media player, so lets move on to the next part…

Installation

Installation is very easy. Just run the installer and click 4 times.
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Agree to the license.

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For this installation I am going to run songbird as if it is the first media player I have owned.

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Songbird will then ask you what addons to install – I just accepted the recommendations and hit ok.

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then hit finish.
Songbird will download and install the addons, then it will scan for media.

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once its found the media it will read all the meta-data for the media it finds…

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The import of the media was a lot faster than with the previous release of songbird and only took about 5 mins to import a good 50 gigs of music

songbird is now installed and has all my media in it.

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============

First use

one of the things about having a large media collection is organising it.
Itunes is pretty good at this (though not any better or worse than any other media player)
Songbird is slightly different – Itunes will store all the information in its library
It wont embed all the information (tags, album art, etc) in the metadata of the actual files, so where your
Itunes library may be perfect it will be crap in most other media players.
I am fortunate that I have all the artwork embeded in the metadata of the files so that my library is perfect in all media players.
If you dont have this, but your itunes library is perfect, then see my previous post
about how to fix this problem…
/media-players/

Songbird is definately faster this time round. So far It has not crashed.
both good points. though nothing to call home about. the real area where songbird stands out is
the way that it integrates with the ‘net

simply clicking play in songbird will not only play your selected track, but it will also bring up information on the artist

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news about the artist

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photo’s from gigs, etc

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and a fantastic new feature – videos from youtube and other places =)

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these features alone make songbird the most inclusive media player to date. everything is built into the player!!
awesome!

tabs

I’m used to tabs on a browser. I’m used to tabs on everything when I use KDE – tabs on konsole are great.
but tabs on a media player ?
its an interesting thing. you only need one tab for your music – you only really want to play one track at a time (most times anyway)
but songbird is built of the same stuff as firefox – it has tabs in it – tabs for the songbird addons site and other stuffs.
its a really good idea – you can goto the songbird website directly inside your media player and add new stuff to it without opening your browser
(or alt-tabbing to it =)

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there are loads of cool addons for songbird – see my other posts about songbird for some of them, or just go have a look around – they work in much the same way as addons for firefox
you find one that you like the sound of and hit install, and it does exactly that.

===

Shoutcast.
I’m a big fan of shoutcast.
its built into songbird.
excellent. not much more I can say except for try it.
its like radio, but you pick what you want to listen to –
I like the oldschool snes stations the best – non stop snes music!!

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===

gigs in your media player.
I have written about this before – how to get the gigs for artists in your itunes into it so that you know about upcoming gigs.
its messy inside itunes.
songkick is one of the sites I use to find out gig dates
AND ITS BUILT INTO SONGBIRD !!

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simply pick your city, and hit find.

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it gives you a nice interface with links to buy tickets from inside your songbird!!!
just what I needed – a way to spend all my money on cool bands in the middle of a credit crunch =|

there is an option to show all gigs in your city, or to just show the gigs for bands you have in your library =)

I think I’ll leave it for all gigs – that way I can find neew bands to listen to =)

Last.fm is supported out of the box, so you can scrobble your tracks too.

==============

well, I’m now on to ‘using the player for an extended amount of time’.
ive been listening to a few tracks so far as I have been writing this.
I have 5 days before this gets published, so thats plenty time to write about it
=)

I have now been listening for a good 5 hours.
I have to say that the best thing so far is the photo display.
Its an amaising idea. the video’s and news sections are excellent too, I have spent most of my time reading up on the artists I have in my library and seeing what they have been doing.
one thing I have noticed is that the artwork displayed is for whatever track is selected by your mouse,
not the track thats playing (unless you have selected that track with your mouse)
I like the way that works – you dont need to play a track to see the cover of the cd that its on.
It doesnt change by itself when the track changes, which can be confusing – perhaps a feature for the next update will be that it behaves in both ways –
the artwork changes when the song changes and will display the artwork for the tracks that you click on (but dont play) maybe for ten or so seconds before returning to the artwork of the currently playing track.

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making a play list is easy. drag and drop works.

the metadata editor is simple to use, and effective.
It can be used to edit multiple tracks at the same time, with a check box to change the specific field of all the selected tracks. Album art can be added to a selection of tracks in this way too =)

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The default view is pretty easy to use – anyone who used itunes or winamp will know how to use it instantly – it has a split view – three pains one for genre, one for artist and one for album, with the appropriate selected tracks displayed in the bottom pain

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one of the most ingenius features of songbirs are the addons as I have mentioned. there are addons available that let you customise the view to suit your own needs – try some out, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Songbird can be themed too – there are a plethora of skins available for it, but I like the default one, as it blends nicely with my desktop theme, so I’ll just stick with that for just now =)

On the ‘using for an extended time’ front I’ve now been using songbird 1.0.0 for two solid days (if not listening to it the whole time – I left my machine on last night [with the volume off] with songbird running to see if it would crash,and its solid.)

the standard shuffle and repeat options are available so you wont be disapointed. also, I have noticed that MTP device support is available, so I’m about to plug in my creative zen and see what happens =)

well – it was instantly recognised. even the battery level was recognised, which is a very nice touch. kudos to whoever spent the time to get that working =)

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I can even browse the things on my zen from within songbird. nice. (if you are wondering what I have on my zen – I have been listening to some audiobooks from librivox.org – things like the Ammundsen journey to the south pole and Sir Henry M Stanley’s How I found Livingstone – pretty random, but still, it saves me reading it and it makes a change from music.

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there is a nice help section in songbird – Ive never used it before, but as I’m trying to do a full review of it I thought I’d better give it a mention.

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podcasts work in songbird too – I listen to the 2600 podcasts – as you can see, if I go to the rss feed for the 2600 podcasts songbird automatically finds the files available for download and displays a little download button – click them and it will start to download them – they are also displayed in the downloads playlist, so that you know where the files are =)

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well, I hope you have liked this review – It took me 4 days of playing, no crashes, and everything just worked.
overall I am very impressed with this new release of songbird =)
so go download it
http://getsongbird.com