Archive for May, 2006

First Impression of Front Row

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

I had some doubts about Front Row on my new iMac, especially its requirement that it only play files that QuickTime recognizes. I have a whole bunch of videos ripped from my DVDs in DivX or XviD format. How to play them?

I tried the official plug-in and an open-source version, but Front Row still wouldn’t play any of my Lost or Battlestar Galactica episodes. After some digging around on the web, however, I found a beta of the Macintel version of DivX, and installed that. Lo and behold, the episodes appeared! Not only that, but I made aliases from my file server and put them in my Movies folder, and Front Row saw them and used them!

Unfortunately, some of the videos crash Front Row — it just quits when it gets to certain spots in the episode. I have VLC, which plays them fine, but I’m still a bit upset. It would be nice to sit down and watch a few episodes without having to screw around with different programs for bickering codecs.

One downside is that I’m running a lot of beta software. The DiVX codec I found is a beta release. The version of VLC for Macintel is also beta. Also, Apple’s software sometimes seems like beta stuff — how hard is it to give me an error when Front Row hiccups playing a video file?

Of course, now that my iMac is the hub of my ‘media center’, I need to get a Dolby Receiver with digital inputs so I can get my 5.1 setup working with DVDs. The purchasing never ends…

But aside from that, Front Row is impressive. I like the iPod-like interface for music. I like that it recongized aliases that point to files on a Windows server. Except for the few bugs (which should be blamed on beta software), it’s a solid program.