Wednesday, February 11, 2009

iTunes vs MediaMonkey (or Why I Hate iTunes)

I don't like iTunes. Let me make that clear from the start, just in case the header didn't give it away. I personally switched to a progam called MediaMonkey a couple of years ago, and haven't looked back, until now. I recently downloaded iTunes 8; curious as to whether Apple had improved anything. They haven't:
  1. First up is the program download, and Apple's attempt to con you into downloading Safari and QuickTime along with iTunes, as if, at 65Mb, the download wasn't big enough already. Then, if there's an upgrade, you have to download the whole program again. And Aplle issue lots of upgrades. For bandwidth limited South Africans, this can be an expensive 'free' program.
  2. iTunes doesn't automatically import your music; there is no way to 'watch' a folder. If you don't use iTunes to rip your music, then you have to manually point iTunes to the new folder. MediaMonkey allows you to set up folders that it 'watches', and then automatically loads the files.
  3. Cover Flow is an awesome bit of eye-candy, but iTunes management of Album Art really sucks. If you don't have access to the iTunes Store (like us in SA) then it is a completely manual operation. Sure, there are plug-ins, but why isn't it built in. MediaMonkey searches Amazon and shows the options based on Artist, Album, etc, then auto tags your matching files, using the recognised ID3 tagging format, and saves a copy of the Album Art to the folder. iTunes saves all the Album Art to a folder it sets up in My Music, and not to the ID3 tag.
  4. The main purpose for a lot of people using iTunes is syncing with their iPods. Sure, iTunes works seamlessly in this task; it couldn't be easier. Or could it? I have an 8Gb iPod Nano, and about 16Gb of music. This confuses iTunes, and the only way to ensure that the music you want on your iPod actually loads, is to manually uncheck the little boxes next to all the songs you don't want to reduce to your iPod capacity (in my case 8Gb). Then, everytime you rip/download a new album, you have to uncheck more songs. MediaMonkey (yes, it even works with iPods) has a much better solution. In the options for each device you connect to your computer you can select which playlists you want to sync, and then there is a checkbox which directs MediaMonkey to fill your device to it's capacity. Then, everytime you sync, it replaces the songs you have listened to, and replaces them with new ones. Your iPod remains fresh.
It's not all bad. As I said before, Cover Flow is brilliant, the app works well and is very stable, and it does offer features that 3rd party apps like MediaMonkey cannot offer, like calendar and photo album support. However, if you have a large music collection, MediaMonkey is absolutely unmatched (in my experience) in sorting it out, deleting dead links and finding missing tags and Album Art. The program works with all iPods and iPhones, as well as other mp3 players. Give it a try.

Thanks for reading.