Songbird Desktop is a media player and much more…so much more, it may overwhelm casual users.
Songbird Desktop is a media player that’s not chained to your desktop, despite its name. Although this free application for PC and Mac will organize you collection and playback audio and video files from your computer, it’s also a tool for discovering new music, learning more about your favorite artists, and connecting with friends.
Songbird installs quickly and easily, but getting your music into the program is entirely up to you. You have to add files manually, by pointing Songbird in the direction of your media collection. Once your songs and videos are added to Songbird, you can take advantage of its basic media playback functions. You can play songs, rip CDs (but not burn them), create playlists, and more. Songbird does play videos, but you may have to download some video codecs to play back all files, as Songbird doesn’t include some that would require it to pay a royalty.
Songbird will sync with Android mobile devices and smartphones, but not Apple’s products. While iPhone and iPod owners are out of luck, Android users will appreciate that Songbird syncs with their devices. I had to download an add-on from Songbird’s library in order to get the application to recognize my Motorola Droid Bionic, but once I made it through that somewhat confusing process, Songbird worked seamlessly with my phone.
In fact, Songbird’s extensive library of add-ons is just one of the factors that make this application so interesting. In there, you can find add-ons that will do everything from adding lyrics to songs as they play to displaying album art from Last.fm. If you’re willing to spend some time poking around the add-on collection, you can find plenty of tools for customizing everything from the look of Songbird to the experience of using its Web browser, which displays right in the main window of the application. This allows you to find out more about your favorite artists. It also allows you to connect with other users, and lets you connect via Facebook to find out what artists your friends like, too.
And that’s not all: Songbird also works as a media server, streaming your media collection to UPnP or DLNA devices on the same local network. It’s also available as a Web app and an Android app that sync with the desktop version. In short, there’s not a lot Songbird can’t do. It may all be too much for the casual user who simply wants to listen to a few tunes, and if you want to sync them to your iPhone, you’re out of luck. But adventurous music fans looking for a player that they can customize will find a lot to sing about in Songbird.
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Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.