September 07, 2007 |
MX Play advertises itself as software that lets you “be your own MTV”. I hope they mean MTV in the good ol' days when they still played music videos, and not MTV now with nothing but pseudo-reality shows and game shows. The download link on the front of the site provides you with an exe file for Windows XP or greater, that only works with Internet Explorer 7 and above or FireFox 2. If, like me, you are a Mac user, you will need to get your download in a more roundabout way.
To find the Mac OS 10.4 or greater compatible download, you will need to click the grey Download tab at the top of the screen. Then look for a very small orange link, under the large orange Windows download button, that says “On a Mac? Get MX Play Desktop for Mac.” That will take you to the Mac version, which is not available in a browser plug in yet. It is only available as a stand alone program as of this review.
Once you have downloaded the MX Play dmg file, it will install an old-school “package” style software application on your hard drive, and automatically offer to download the necessary components and patches to allow it to “talk” to iTunes. It then opens the software and offers to import your music. Unfortunately, it only imports those files not DRM encrypted, so you may not get some of your older iTunes music from before the DRM-free days. I opted not to import my entire music library after determining that it stored a copy of the music in its folder – that's a huge waster of hard drive space!
Instead, I imported a single CD worth of music so I could test the complete interface. The Windows version of MX Player is available in both a browser plug in and the full desktop version. The Mac version is only available on your desktop. This means that in order to get the coolest benefit of MX Player, the MP3 hunting feature, you have to use the desktop version of MX Player as a browser until they offer the plug in for Macs. When you use the MX Player as a browser, it will look for music files on any site you visit. If it finds them, it pops the mp3 files up in a small window under the site window that looks like an excel spreadsheet split screen.
When MX Play finds a web site that has music, it breaks open a window below the site window and displays the files for download or play. It's quick and simple, and it works on any site where there is music. I can't wait until they get the browser button created for Macs so I don't have to open a separate program when I want to see what music is available on a site or blog.
The other nice feature of the desktop program is the ability to create streaming photos or videos to mashup with your music. You can then put these in your public audio space for everyone else who uses the MX Player to enjoy. You can also grab video, photos or audio from the web to add to these mashups. I don't see myself using this feature much (I have enough time sinks in my day already), but I have several friends who would enjoy playing with the mashup possibilities.
All in all I'd have to say the download and installation was easy, taking less than five minutes. The learning curve was fast – it took less than ten minutes to figure out how to use the main software features, and the extras are easy to use as they pop up. They offer a variety of plug ins for the geek set, like WiiMote integration, Last.FM feeds and more. They lose big points for not offering the more convenient browser plug in for FireFox for the Mac, and for duplicating the files on your computer when you import them on the MX Play desktop Audio space. I like this little application, and plan to leave it installed but keep checking back for the plug in. I just don't need the extra features the desktop version offers and I could use the space it takes up (over 20MB) for something else.