Thursday, October 11, 2007

Return of the llama: Winamp 5.5 impresses

When Winamp 5.3 came out a year ago, it impressed many who had written it off, although that may have been simply because it hadn't died a quiet death of obsolescence. Long-needed steps to improve the old-school media player were implemented, with support for AAC encoding, CD burning, and a robust file-management system.


Thirteen months on, Winamp 5.5 ups the ante again with strong support for portable devices, including iPods, the ability to sync non-DRMed files to your PC from your device, an optional new interface layout, a built-in browser for media discovery, and other nifty tricks.


The most obvious is the new user interface skin, Bento. This takes the annoying modular components of Winamp and stitches them together, separated and hideable, a virtual bento box keeping your Winamp functionality from smooshing together into an unpalatable clutter. Not only that, but you can resize all of the spaces to design an interface that suits your needs. The old skins are still there, though, and you can change the color themes to any of two dozen combinations. Skins and themes are an old strength of Winamp's, made stronger in this version.



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