060611 - J River Media Center ReviewI first tried J River Media Center because I figured "hey, it costs money, it must be pretty sweet, right?" Wrong. It had enough fancy features to keep my interest for most of the duration of the 30 day trial period, but in the end it just didn't work out.

When I first loaded up J River it asked me what theme I wanted. I liked that, because it showed that they have a certain sensitivity to those of us who are anal about visually pleasing desktops.

The experience from there was pretty much all uphill for a while. I loved the interface, it was just so pretty. The theater mode was awesome, letting me pretend I had Windows XP Media Center Edition. The visualizations were also pretty sweet, what with being 3D, minimally system-wrecking and all around nice to look at. The visualizations even had a tendency to incorporate the cover art, which I loved.

Then things started to get ugly, and fast. I realized that it had misread some of my IDv tags, which should have been no big deal. I've dealt with that before. So I tried to update a bunch of tags at once. This was when the pretty interface began to show its poorly thought out underbelly. It took me forever to figure out how to change what tags I could edit en-masse, because sometimes there might be something extra I want to change about a lot of files at once. Not to mention just how slooooooowwww it updates the music library. I'm not even sure it does update the IDv3 tags all the time. Mostly it just fucks with the music library file, which really shouldn't take that long.

Supposedly it also supports iPods, but I've installed three different versions of it over the last couple years, and none of them have been able to update my iPod. One of them tried, and broke the database so that I had to format my iPod, but didn't do such a great job of putting music on it. The latest version couldn't even spot that I had an iPod. So I'll give them a few points in the iPod support category for at least making the effort.
J River was pretty, J River was fun, J River tried really hard all around to add some pizazz to my music experience. In the end though, it didn't have the hard, solid features to back up all that flair, and it fell flat on its face.

I won't even bother giving up a link to it, it's just not worth your time, and especially isn't worth your money.

  • Overall: 5/10
  • Music Management: 5/10
  • Sound Quality: 7/10
  • Aesthetics: 8/10
  • Geek Appeal: 5/10
  • Efficiency: 3/10
  • iPod Support: 3/10
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