Songbird solves my multi-multimedia player dilemma

Between home and work, I have various Windows, Linux and Macintosh computers. I centralize my media on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, accessible by all. As you can imagine, I use different media players on all.

My biggest hurdle has been consistency in user experience. I’ve had to run iTunes on the Mac, Winamp, FooBar2000 or VLC on my XP/Vista boxes, and VLC on the Linux machines.

But today, I discovered Songbird, a Mozilla based media browser, with versions for all my boxen (Mac, Linux and PC).

The experience is quite similar to Winamp. Simply point songbird at your music directory and let it build a catalogue.

Bonus feature, Songbird also talks to my iPods perfectly. Transfer music, build playlists…everything works.

From the developers:

We’re working on creating a non-proprietary, cross platform, extensible tool that will help enable new ways to playback, manage, and discover music.

Songbird is currently just out of beta; current version is 1.0. But it’s a pretty slick piece of work for being so new. I’m already a fan of the FireFox-like AddOn features — LiveTweeter (a Twitter plugin), ShoutCast Radio (streaming audio), and a whole host of visual customization addons.

If you’re looking for a nice, clean, Open Source media player, give Songbird a try.

*** UPDATE*** [Dec.25.08]
One major annoyance for many Songbird users is the lack of a Watched Folder. Simply put, this lets you point Songbird at a particular media folder and import any changes into the Songbird library automagically. Developers are aware of this, and appear to be considering adding this functionality in future. I certainly hope so, as now it’s a cumbersum process to remember to update my Songbird library on every computer.

*** UPDATE*** [Mar.13.09] Songbird 1.1.1 has been released. Among the updates you’ll find the much-awaited Watched Folder.