Buying an iPod automatically means for most that they have to be committed to iTunes – a music player which, although not bad on Macs, genuinely is very bulky and most of the time very slow when running on a PC. People generally say that Apple can not write software for toffee when it comes to PC’s – and so if you are one of these people, or are just sick of iTunes, then there is a solution. In fact, there are quite a few direct alternatives to iTunes which are completely 100% compatible with your much loved iPod, and these direct alternatives will also not run down your PC one bit (unless you use a netbook for managing your music) – and have not upgraded the RAM.
All of the alternatives listed below have their own perks and advantages as well as their own disadvantages. This list is also not supposed to be comprehensive, but I have tested all of them out for a minimum of 3 days each across the space of a few months. And so each jukebox has not just been added from what other people say, but from experience.
Who is it for?
Media Monkey is for people who have loads of files which are unorganized. File hoarders galore, Media Monkey is perfect for frequent taggers and multi format users; FLAC and Ogg support are standard.
I liked the advanced and automatic tagging feature Media Monkey comes with, as well as the fact that the test iPhone 2G was fully compatible along wih the iPhone 3G and iPod Nano 3rd gen. I also liked the fact it was skinnable, and that it has an unholy amount of plug-ins and a podcast catcher. Another pretty cool feature was the ability to generate HTML reports.
I disliked the fact that anybody who is not particularly technology savvy would be hard pressed to understand Media Monkey at first glance. An annoying feature Media Monkey also has is the inability to manage videos which, if you have videos, renders Media Monkey a little useless. There is also no Mac version, so it is PC Windows only.
Who is it for?
Winamp is the perfect choice for anybody who has the desire for loads of features from their jukebox. Flexible, good looking and fairly easy to use, Winamp is pretty much perfect for anybody.
I liked the flash video support, as well as the ability to monitor multiple folders. I really liked the ability to copy media from the iPod to my laptop, which kills the need for an external hard drive if you buy a new computer. I also liked the visualizer, built in web browser, the fact it is skinnable and enjoyed the auto tagging function. I also liked the multi language support.
The prompts to constantly upgrade to the Pro version. The skinning can be a bit overwhelming, and the features which allow you to really Tweak Winamp are tucked away at the bottom of the cupboard, which could confuse some. I also hated the lack of any good photo management, and the fact there is no Mac support.
Who is it for?
Anybody who owns a Mac and hates iTunes. It is also perfect for anybody looking for an easy to use and intuitive UI. Songbirds minimalistic approach makes this jukebox perfect for anybody.
I liked that Songbird is not just PC only and that the Mac version ran very well. Songbird also has an attract GUI which is skinnable, and I particularly liked the free downloadable music Songbrid comes with, which is updated regularly by Hype Machine. The built in web browser was also good, and the plug in support for Flickr made for a good all round jukebox.
There was not much to dislike about Songbird. Really. In fact, the only gripe I had with Songbird was the fact that if you have a large library (I have over 10,000 songs) then Songbird can be a bit slow to update. If you have between 1000 and 3000 songs though this shouldn’t bother you. One other small thing that bugged me was the fact that there was no search and destroy for duplicates.
Who is it for?
Floola is perfect for anybody who has no administrative rights at their computer. Floola is perfect for people who, for instance, live at home and share a computer with their parents. Easy to install and completely un system heavy Floola is good for anyone.
I liked that Floola worked on both Mac and Ubuntu configerations. I loved the fact that Floola launches itself when the iPod has been plugged in, and also that Floola converts videos with surprising ease from the web. I also found the drag and drop interface really functional.
I hated not being able to rip CD’s directly from Floola. I also found it pretty ugly to look at, and the fact that you get prompted to ‘donate’ everytime you close the application. I also found syncing the original iPhone to be a bit annoying – because it refused to locate. But it was fine with the 3G – mind, that could be down the my original iPhone test model packing up lately.
Who is it for?
I saved the best until last. I didn’t want you guys to just see the first alternative, download it and then close my post lol. No, seriously, J River is perfect for anybody. Much more than a jukebox, J River manages all media perfectly and seamlessly.
I loved the fact J River will soon have Mac support. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to rip and burn CD’s after Floola, and I also liked being able to convert my own files. I like the duplicate search and destroy function, and J river is also very nice to look at. Whats more, audio format support is next to endless.
Nothing. Zilch. Zero. I would recommend J River to anybody, in fact, the only thing you have to bare is the download speed which is slower than Media Monkey – but for that wait you get one heck of a lot of features.
PS: Digging this story, news or review? Let us know! Comments open.
About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 23, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. Find me on Google+. View author profile.