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Published on August 21, 2008 By Philocthetes In Personal Computing
I'll try to be concise about my needs/desires here. First, what I don't want:
* Windows Media Player: Mainly because Microsoft never gave me the chance to decide I might want it, but also because it is an ugly, weak cousin of the increasingly obnoxious iTunes.
* An audio player that wants (or worse, needs) the Internet, other than say for a manual Check For Updates command.
* An audio player that assumes I am using mobile players and installs clutter to support them

What I do want:
* Smart playlist functionality like iTunes has (e.g. Genres X, Y, and Z, not played in last 3 months)
* A shuffle mode that can be fed by a specific playlist or playlists
* A clean, keyboard-friendly interface for modifying metadata (artist, genre, etc.)
* And, in my dream world, the ability to import the XML playlists I've already built in iTunes

Basically, I really like the core functionality of iTunes but I am tired to the bone of the system clutter and the Buy More Apple Crap baggage that comes with it. The latest update won't even install if you refuse to let it run iPodService (love my Kaspersky).
on Aug 21, 2008
Here ya' go:

VLC Media Player

Out of these, I've tried Foobar2000, WinAmp, Songbird, VLC and MediaMonkey.
Don't know much about aTunes, though.

Songbird and aTunes are iTunes alernatives, less irritating and still good. Songbird is still in it's alpha version though, so you might not want to use it long term...
VLC Media Player can play any file on your PC, any of them. I use it for DVDs.
MediaMonkey is best for organizing, sorting, meta-editing your media. It plays them too.
WinAmp is a bag of a lot of features packed into a solid, all rounding media player, though your mileage may vary.
Foobar2000 is the most ligthweight and customizable of them all, but it ain't for the average newb
on Aug 21, 2008
Thanks for the list, but I've already done the most basic research. I'm lazy and was hoping for some hardcore comparison shopper to comment on my personal functionality preferences.

I have no loyalty to iTunes other than love of the Smart Playlist and the ability to point the Party Shuffle mode to a folder full of playlists.

Do the AutoPlaylists in MediaMonkey let you stack search parameters, so you could build a list for Genres 1, 2, and 3, exclude Artist X, and only hear things you haven't played in Y days/weeks/months? (Their web site is not very detailed about this)
on Aug 21, 2008
Songbird - http://addons.songbirdnest.com/addon/9
It has what you want. They also have a plug in - iTunes Library Importer http://addons.songbirdnest.com/addon/9
on Aug 24, 2008

Thanks, Po' Smedley. That looks promising. You must have a Doright in your family tree somewhere...

on Aug 24, 2008
Songbird is still early in development and lacks features, though. MediaMonkey is definitely where you wanna go. $20 will get you the Gold version but that's up to you as to whether you'll use the features or not. Other than that, MediaMonkey is bursting with functionality that iTunes, Winamp, and WMP all have but doesn't have all the unnecessary junk of those media players.
on Aug 24, 2008

I briefly checked out the current Songbird (which now includes a rudimentary iTunes library import), and it looks like it will eventually be good for me. But apparently I either need to be patient with the open source software crowd or pony up to the MediaMonkey folks to get an app that can recreate how I currently use iTunes.

I think for the time being, I'll settle for locking iTunes away from the net and hoping it doesn't develop any problems with future Vista and other updates. There were some early conflicts between GC2 and iTunes that led to CTDs for me, and I think the problems might have continued into my first few months suffering Vista (last autumn).But lately, knock on wood, my GC2 performance has been rock solid and my laboriously built Game Time playlist collection has been playing along nicely. Y'all have helped me remember the venerable aphorism "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

on Aug 24, 2008
winamp is the best in my opinion