At AppStorm, I’ve reviewed all kinds of media players and managers for Mac, from the great (Plex), to the not-so-great (Songbird). I’ve always been looking for something that has wonderful management features, but is also a pleasure to actually consume media with. While I use and love Plex, it still hasn’t satisfied all of my media needs – There’s definitely a gap for something incredible.
Elmedia Player is a media player for Mac, which boasts a huge range of codecs, including support for SWF Flash files, and it also has support for downloading movies. Let’s take a look at how it compares, and if it’s the media player of my dreams.
Elmedia Player comes in two varieties – A free version, and a PRO version. Both do pretty much the same job, but the PRO version, coming in at $19.95, offers features such as downloading videos, converting videos into a series of images, and a few other bits and pieces.
Elmedia Player is not yet on the App Store, so you’ll have to download it from their site. The installation process is nothing new, drag the app into your Applications folder and you’re good to go.
I think it’s important to make one thing very clear from the get-go – Despite the name, this is not really a media player. It doesn’t handle music, nor podcasts, it just handles movies. If you were expecting a complete solution for all your media needs, this isn’t it. It you’re looking for a video managing app, you’ve come to the right place.
Importing your movies is wonderfully simple. All you have to do is drag them into Elmedia Player from Finder, and you’re done. What’s great about this app is that it doesn’t have to add it to some library, so it can import movies instantly. That said, when I imported my entire movie collection (About 60GB), it got a little confused and ended up taking about a minute. Even still, that’s blindingly fast compared to the competition!
If you’ve used iTunes before, you’ll be very much at home with the interface of Elmedia Player: Controls up top, sidebar on the left, a few other bits and pieces down the bottom; nothing revolutionary. Unfortunately, while it works, the aesthetics are a little bit off, and it doesn’t quite feel like a modern day app UI. There’s something ever so OS X Tiger about it.
In fact, if you’ve used iTunes before, you’ll be a little too at home here. It does feel like somewhat of an iTunes ripoff. The layout’s identical, and some of the elements, such as the controls, and the scroll bars, look like they’ve been taken from iTunes, pixel-by-pixel. I might have been able to let this pass, but iTunes hasn’t exactly got a great interface. If you’re going to be inspired so heavily by an app, at least make it a decent app!
After the amazingly easy importing process, the management options go downhill pretty rapidly. There are no meta-tagging options – The only thing you can change is the name of the file itself. This makes a change from something like Plex which has fields for just about everything, from writers and directors to tagline and original title. If you want to use this app, but also want an easily searchable database of movies, my best suggestion would be to put all of your tags in the title, and then either search for them or create Smart Playlists.
Speaking of playlists, this is one feature that Elmedia Player has that many others don’t. Like iTunes, you can easily create playlists and Smart Playlists, which make up for the lack of other management options to a large extent. For example, rather than having a genre tag, just stick all of your comedies in one playlist, and thrillers in another.
Alternatively, as I mentioned earlier, put “Comedy” in the title, and make a Smart Playlist which gathers all movies which has “Comedy” in their title. It’s not perfect, but it’s some consolation.
One thing which is much missed from Elmedia Player is a variety of views for your media. At the moment, all you have is a list of videos at the bottom, with a player above it (although you can bring the player into a separate window). I’d love options for a thumbnail view, or at least something else, as the current view is a little dull and difficult to scan over quickly.
Judging by the name, Elmedia Player should be pretty good at playing media, right? Well, it certainly has some awesome codec support – I have yet to find a movie format it can’t play, which is a massive plus for any media app. The playing of the media itself is quite average. It does most things you’d expect it to, but after that, it really hasn’t got any tricks up its sleeve.
One feature I would really love is support for the Apple Remote. I use my remote when watching movies on my Mac, and without it, it’s a pretty poor experience.
This is a massive selling point for this app, as it’s something most other apps don’t support. To download a video inside Elmedia Player, simply enter the URL of the video, and the app will provide you with a list of videos in that page which you can download. Many of the videos won’t be the one you’re looking for, so it may take a bit of digging around. With YouTube, it’s pretty easy, it’s the only FLV format video there. I couldn’t get the downloader to work with Vimeo, or YouTube videos embedded in another page. This feature is by no means unique to Elmedia Player, but it’s certainly a nice addition.
The Wrong Market?
Elmedia has been marketed as an app for your movies and personal videos, and whie it can do that, I think the app is better suited to a different market: professional movie editing. With support for all kinds of video formats, including camera footage such as .DV, this app would come in very handy to look over all the footage you need to edit. It’s nice and small, so won’t clog up your RAM, and even has an “Always on Top” feature. You can use playlists to organize your scenes too. Plus, since it’s a professional app, the devs would be able to charge 10x more!
If you’re looking for a media player to organize and play your digital video collection, you, will, unfortunately, be somewhat disappointed. It does the job, but not all that well, and $20 for a few extra features seems unnecessary. However, if you edit movies a lot, and want a cheap way to keep track of your footage, this will probably do the job quite nicely.
I’m a big fan of repurposing apps to suit your personal needs, and I think Elmedia Player is a great example of that. What apps have you repurposed to suit your needs?