Let’s admit it. Going digital has brought in a ton of content overload. Photos, music, videos – every single format type easily consumes tens of gigabytes of hard disk space. Navigating through the hundreds of files to locate the ones you are looking for using a standard file explorer is a painful process.
When it comes music, there plenty of apps that do an amazing job organizing the digital music library. Winamp, iTunes and our very Windows Media player are some worth mentioning. I heard good things about MediaMonkey and thought it would be fun to try this media manager out. Read about my tryst with this media manager after the break.
The installation process is pretty much standard and doesn’t sneak in any toolbars or crapware. There is an option to skin MediaMonkey to the maximum extent with its custom theme bypassing the Windows default. I enabled that option, but didn’t quite see any major facelift when compared to the regular Windows theme.
The help wizard at first launch offered comprehensive media management options. However, it appeared way too complex for a novice. Right from scanning the devices for building a library to managing devices, there is a problem of plenty here.
A three column layout doesn’t not exactly score in the eye candy department, but the app is very usable nonetheless. The player controls are at the bottom of the app.
When you aren’t using the app for anything other than playing music, you should try using the mini player and micro player modes. There is a dedicated player toggle button to the top right corner.
Taking a leaf out of the modern day browsers, MediaMonkey comes with tabs. You can open multiple tabs and carry out various tasks without interrupting what’s happening in the other tabs. Definitely a cool feature that warrants a pat in the back.
Managing a Library
It doesn’t matter if you have 10 files for tens of thousands of files. Whether Rock, Classical, Audiobooks, or Podcasts; Movies, Home videos, or TV shows; whether they’re located on your hard drive, CDs, or a network MediaMonkey will organize the jeepers out of you collection for sure. Pristine organization based on Genre, Artist, Year, Rating, etc., ensures that you never have to waste your time trying to find the files you own.
For a collector, the ability to gather the missing information about the files in the collection is very important. MediaMonkey Automatically identifies movies and tracks that are missing information, and pulls information like missing tags and album art from sites like Amazon. And yes, you can manually add and edit tags to your heart’s content as well!
Syncing and Sharing
MediaMonkey’s syncing features worked as advertised. I was able to sync files to my iPhone without any fuss at all. I could not check out the sharing capabilities of the app though. Apparently, it’s capable of sharing media files with TVs, BD Players, and other DLNA devices. All you need to do is select which collections you want to share, and the selected content will immediately be available to your DLNA devices.
MediaMonkey customization abilities are worth a mention. Using a combination of skins, visualizations, plug-ins and other addons you can make this app your very own. I was thrilled to see the addons feature. While there aren’t many, the handful of available ones are thoughtful additions to the app. After a quick download, MediaMonkey’s core functionality can be extended in a manner you see fit.
Those aren’t the only goodies. MediaMonkey integrates with other applications such as sound editors, metadata lookup addons etc. to help you do more than just maintain an archive. If you are an audiophile, you have the tool that’s capable enough to create customized views and to create custom Auto-DJ rules.
I am big fan of the play count of songs in WMP and iTunes. But, MediaMonkey takes it up a notch by letting you pull custom reports with details of your library in many popular formats. Not sure how many of us will need to export a custom report, but it does sound geeky cool!
One little quirk of MediaMonkey that annoyed me to no end was that it auto launches as soon as a portable device is connected. For some that would have been a helpful feature, but since I didn’t voluntarily agree for launching MediaMonkey every single time I try to charge my iPhone I find it irritating. The icons and user interface in general could use some facelift though.
MediaMonkey is a free app. There is a pro version that costs $49.95. But, I found the free version to be extremely feature rich and an absolute delight to use. All said and done, MediaMonkey is indeed one of the powerful movie and music organizers for serious collectors of digital content.