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Friday, November 03, 2006

360 update and WinAmp sync

Wow. This week has really flown by, but I don't really have any interesting news-what can I say, my life's a bore :p I have (unfortunately) been spending time playing Import Tuner Challenge from Ubisoft, and the only good thing I can say about it is I'm really looking forward to writing the review-because I'll be able to get really creative in describing it. Check out a future edition of GEAR for the review on this unbelievably bad game!

Dashy update

The Xbox 360 received a new dashboard update this week. The update added support for native 1080p output, as well as support for some new peripherals like the wireless steering wheel and Live headset. A number of enhancements to things like media connectivity and support were added too. Unfortunately it seems that a tiny percentage of users experienced issues with this update-to the point where there machines were rendered unusable, so MS quickly put out a fixed update.

Media madness

No, not the journalist kind, the multi-kind. Microsoft released Windows Media Player 11 this week, and used in conjunction with the new 360 dashboard update this lets Windows XP users stream music, images and movies to the '360. Sadly there is still no support for popular non-Microsoft codecs like DivX, so it's usefulness is a bit limited.

Media Player 11 itself is really, really pretty. I tried it in the hope that it might support the features it previously lacked and that I consider essential - podcasts and decent device synchronization. Unfortunately it still has zero support for RSS streams with embedded media, and the device support is actually worse than that in version 10-it does not even pick up my PSP as a media player!

Since I was trying new things I thought I would give WinAmp another chance. It does include RSS support, but it's pretty unpleasant to use so I'm stuck with iTunes for that (I tried some other aggregators, but they all pretty much suck). Synchronization wise though, WinAmp has some amazing features! It picks up the PSP with no problems, and not only allows you to synchronize it from selected playlists but also has an 'auto fill' feature that you can use to fill the player up to a certain percentage of full capacity. Both features can be controlled with a really powerful query 'language' and it allows you to specify target directories and so on. It's actually amazing how many synch tools don't support that simple feature! There are two small issues that have been overlooked, but they can sort of be worked around. The first is that you can't specify playlists as a source for the autofill-it always uses the entire library (filtered by the query). The other is that you can't set it to ignore certain files or folders already on the device. This sucks a bit because the autofill always deletes my audio podcasts, so I can only use it when I've listened to everything and am about to download new episodes. Overall though, it looks like WinAmp has won me over again-iTunes is now just my podcatcher.



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